Sunday, September 2, 2018

Praying for a second chance

"Nothing stops a bullet like a job!"

Those are the words of Greg Boyle, SJ, a Jesuit priest and founder of Homeboy Industries of Los Angeles. The organization's Web site says it's "the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world."

Through a similar program in Chicago, founded by Catholic priests,  I've met former gang members, who committed serious, violent crimes as juveniles. They have each spent more than a decade in prison. Now, they are again living in the community and compassionately working to show teens and young adults how to avoid incarceration. They're dedicated to accompanying those they mentor and help them find employment.

Because it is a job and the dignity of work that allows each of us to feel that we're contributing. Working shapes our self worth and sense of belonging. It requires us to selflessly give of ourselves and our valuable time to help carry the load. The lifting we do impacts our families, the lives of those we love, and even total strangers. In exchange, we receive a wage. We are created to feel the value of work. To earn. To be acknowledged for our contribution to something greater than ourselves.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

But if you've got a police record, especially for an act of aggression, finding a paying situation can be especially challenging. Even employers that are felony friendly often reject those who have been convicted of assault.

On this Labor Day weekend, when we honor our neighbors and fellow citizens who do the work that sustains our communities, know there a many who are praying for a second chance.

"Nothing stops a bullet like a job!"

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