And it is unusual because it introduces an article about a hand full of nuns (ages 72 to 87) who had a crazy kind of idea: keep serving and loving, but in a way few women of their ages (even nuns) would dare to try. Two years ago they were called to start a not-for-profit called Journey House although the full importance of their calling would not become clear until last spring when the DOC of Missouri closed a re-entry program that had been providing a way for people being released to return to society with small steps and an opportunity to be employed prior to their release date. This made the need for residential re-entry programs suddenly more urgent than ever and the Journey House Board and nuns were already on track to meet some of the need.
In September they opened a re-entry home for women seeking to recover from incarceration and to return to being the asset to their community that God intended for them to be. Fifteen recently released or newly on-probation women, who had been significantly wounded long before incarceration pilled-on, are working on life-skills: healthy decision-making skills, financial skills, employment skills, healthy body skills and social skills. They are learning to trust and to be trustworthy, to beat back fear with love and hope. They are learning to forgive themselves and forgive others who have wronged them and to take responsibility for the wrongs they have done. They are learning how to have a friend and how to be a friend in wholly new ways.
The waiting list for the program is growing and they are excited when another woman is ready to step forward and relinquish their spot to the next woman in line. I have no doubt that they will persistently reach a hand back to help others as they have been helped.
It is too early to provide statistics to impress donors, but the healing and hope reflected in all these faces: nuns, staff, volunteers, and participants tell us that it is making an amazing difference today.