||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Pastor Letter for October 4, 2009
I have a confession to make. Sometimes, when I get stumped in my homily preparation, I, uh, “borrow.”
One recent last-week-in-September, as I was preparing the readings and thinking of what our parish might consider as we began Respect Life Month (October),
I “borrowed” almost word-for-word from a story I heard on Vatican Radio.
(I listen to their “English Programme” via the Internet many mornings while I am shaving. I do this because the stories are interesting and as reliable-as-rain
for presenting Catholic faith and Catholic life.)
Sure enough, the host began the story by saying something like, “Catholics in the United States next Sunday will celebrate Respect Life Sunday” (etc.).
My ears really perked up when I began to listen to the 20-minute interview they did – the only “Respect Life Month” interview they did that year – with
Dale Recinella, from Macclenny, Florida, just west of Jacksonville. Macclenny is a tiny town whose population is dwarfed by two nearby large State prisons.
Dale works with prisoners in those large prisons, more particularly with those who are condemned to death for their crimes.
In the United States, next to our own Catholic Bishops, Dale is quite probably the most articulate – and credible, non-political – voice heard about
a “consistent ethic of life,” an ethic that urges our society not to consider taking of life – innocent life or guilty life – for the solving of social
problems. He has walked the walk, with victims of crimes as well as the executed. So has his wife, Dr. Susan Recinella, a clinical psychologist for
mentally ill adults, and Catholic lay minister to families of the executed. I know many bishops who are regular visitors to his website, www.iwasinprison.org.
His recent book lays out special challenges to Bible-belt Christians, not only to Catholics: “The Biblical Truth About The Death Penalty.”
We are so fortunate that Dale and Susan Recinella will be able to spend an entire morning with us at St. Anastasia’s, as part of our
parish’s commemoration of Respect Life Month, on Saturday October 24 (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon). Their visit made possible by the cooperative
leadership of JustFaith and our Respect Life Committee.
The Church’s teaching on the death penalty can often be a “hard teaching” to many good, sincere Catholics.Pope John Paul II taught
us in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”), that there are obvious cases where direct taking a life – like life of an infant
in the womb or weak elderly person – is an absolute moral evil. The “hard teaching,” the Pope explained, was in cases where there could be
a moral rationale for taking a life – capital punishment, for instance, in days in which execution was society’s only way of protecting itself
from dangerous people – but where society’s respect for the dignity of every human life, whether victim or criminal, has to be the overarching value.
As the Holy Father challenged our fellow citizens in his 1999 visit to St. Louis: "The dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform."
I hope that you’ll try to get your hands on Pope John Paul’s entire encyclical, and work your way through it one day. You might make beginning your read of “The Gospel of Life” a concrete way that you will learn even more about your faith in this Respect Life Month. And I hope you’ll make plans to meet and talk and listen to Dale Recinella on October 24.
Love, Father Morgan
Father D. Terrence Morgan, pastor
St. Anastasia Catholic Church
5205 A1A South
Saint Augustine, FL 32080
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.
Your name and information will never be used or shared with anyone. We promise!
Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed