I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
June 6, 2006
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

Upcoming Events: Theology on Tap

"From International Law to Death Row: One Man's Journey"
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"From International Law to Death Row: One Man's Journey"
Speaker: Dale S. Recinella

As part of the 2006 "Theology on Tap" Series sponsored by University of Notre Dame Alumni Club of Greater Orlando, Florida

Date: Tuesday June 13, 2006

Hospitality 6:30 pm
Talk 7:00pm
Q&A 7:30pm

Location: Loaded Hog Pub, 11 N. Orange Avenue, Downtown Orlando (just north
of Central next to Wall Street Cantina; parking at Central Avenue).

The book, "The Biblical Truth about America's Death Penalty" will be available for sale and signing.

For information, contact: Marie O'Neill, JD
Email:Marie O'Neill or visit http://www.ndorlando.com

Miserere Nobis
By: Dale Recinella

When I hear Latin spoken today, it’s usually by a mature Catholic. Mass prayers in the mother tongue are the province of fellows my age and older. In the millennial year, the big 5-0 stands as a continental-size divide between those who served in English and those of us who perfected our pre-Vatican II prayers in the Eternal language.

It was a different world then. No one had walked on the moon. A Catholic was running for President. Families had at least five children. (I’m the eldest of eight.) Mothers were home. And from the moment I became old enough to be an altar boy, I can tell you what my mother was doing. She drilled me without mercy.

“Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam." Again. Then it was “Confiteor Deo omnipotenti.…”

Mom was usually a stickler on bedtimes. But we burned the midnight oil for weeks practicing prayers in the tongue of angels. Her Italian pride could not bear the shame of a rebuke from our stern Irish pastor. I had better come home from this exam with a perfect score or—better not to come home. In those days, no one talked about “nurturing” children. We were dropforged.

Just a couple of years later, everything changed. My younger brothers learned their prayers in English. I told them it didn’t count.

Now, forty years later, vivid memories of altar boy boot camp are common treasure with many of my Catholic brothers on death row. That shouldn’t surprise me. The average age on Florida’s death row is over 40 years old. Almost one-fourth of the men on the row are old enough to be on my side of that great divide. Among the Catholics, the percentage is even higher. Poles, Irish, Germans, Italians—they all remember the Latin gauntlet. Sometimes, they’ll even test me.

“Ite, Missa est!” a voice barks from the bunk of a cell as I pass in the hall.

“Deo gratias!” I fire back, catching an impish altar boy grin flash across a grown man’s face.

Today, I bring Communion to a man my age who hails from the heart of New York. I stand before his cell as we carve out the sacred time and space that will hold this sacramental moment. It’s more difficult than usual.

The summer heat and humidity is distracting. The noise on the corridor seems louder than normal. The new steel cage-mesh, which has been welded over all the death row cells, makes it harder to connect, harder to see or touch each other. We are both struggling.

“What can we do to make ourselves aware of God’s presence in a special way?” I ask, taking his hands in mine through the food-flap opening in the mesh.

He pauses for a moment, then smiles, “Could you say the Agnus Dei?”

“Yes, I can. In the special monthly healing Mass at our church, we sing it.”

He shifts his head to make eye contact through the jet-black mesh. “Could you sing it now—here?”

I hesitate. But only for a moment. His suggestion is perfect.

“Agnus Dei…” “Qui tollis peccata mundi: miserere no-o-bis.” The effect is immediate. Within seconds, the entire corridor falls hushed. As the Latin syllables disperse through the hall, cassock-clad memories of High Masses and Benedictions fill both our minds. The Presence of something—Someone—much larger than ourselves transcends the moment. By the third verse, the very air in the place seems to have changed.

“Dona nobis pa-a-cem.” Our eyes meet. We have traveled together to another time, another space. We’re ready. Now we can begin.

First published: The Florida Catholic, September 28, 2000
© 2000 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
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

If you Like this Weekly Ezine - You will love Dale's Book!
Sr. Patricia Proctor
Paperback: 433 pages

Excellent book on the topic!,
June 13, 2005 Nathan Eanes
(Review from Amazon.com)

The Biblical Truth about America's Death Penalty is a must-read. It deals with Biblical standards of Capital Punishment and then compares them to the system used in America today. It is the best-researched, most faithful to scripture, and most evenhanded analysis I have ever read concerning the Death Penalty. Whatever your persuasion on the issue, this book will teach you a great deal. Recinella is a trained lawyer and committed Christian who now volunteers part-time on Florida's death row. He thus understands law, the Bible, and the system of execution in America. I challenge anyone who supports the Death Penalty to read this book.

Read more reviews

This ezine edited by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC - Poor Clare Sister
to support the IWasInPrison Outreach