News Detail
Jesuit Father Michael Kennedy
Pope's Words Give Inmates Hope, Says Jesuit Advocate for Fair Sentencing

July 16, 2014 — Pope Francis recently sent a message of hope to a group of prisoners who are serving life sentences without parole for crimes they committed as children. In a letter addressed to Jesuit Father Michael Kennedy, the pope responded to hundreds of letters from these inmates, assuring them of his prayers and that the Lord “knows and loves each one of them.”

After Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 young inmates at an Italian detention center during Holy Week 2013, Jody Kent Lavy, an advocate for restorative justice and fair sentencing, organized a letter-writing campaign, and Fr. Kennedy, executive director of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, helped forward 500 of these letters to the pope.

Lavy didn't expect a response from the pope, but then a letter with a simple yet poignant message of mercy, reconciliation and forgiveness arrived from the Vatican. Fr. Kennedy, who ministers to incarcerated youth in juvenile halls in the Los Angeles area, noted the kids were inspired that someone as influential as Pope Francis would assure them of their own worth as individuals. 

On June 8, a special Mass was celebrated at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall outside Los Angeles. More than 100 people were present, including Fr. Kennedy, Lavy and dozens of young people serving life without parole.

“We prayed for the spirit to come upon our politicians and our leaders,” said Fr. Kennedy, “to have their hearts moved to realize that kids deserve a second chance because they can contribute to society.”

The letter from Pope Francis was presented to Lavy at the Mass and read to the young people in attendance. “In saying that he [the pope] is praying for these people, that the Lord is with them, I think really affirms their humanity,” Lavy said.

“The pope’s letter is strong and clear. He believes our youth deserve a second chance,” Fr. Kennedy noted. [Sources: Catholic News Service, America magazine]





Recent News

January 12, 2018 — Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has selected Fr. William Verbryke, SJ, as its 12th president.

January 10, 2018 — Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, the Jesuit secondary school in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has appointed Fr. Timothy A. Howe, SJ, to serve as the school’s next president.

January 8, 2018 — Jesuit Father Anthony J. Corcoran was installed as apostolic administrator of Kyrgyzstan on Dec. 17.

January 5, 2018 — Brendan Coffey, SJ, a Jesuit in formation, is featured in a news report on vocations in the Catholic Church.

January 3, 2018 — Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D., has been named as the 25th president of John Carroll University.

January 1, 2018 — In the early days of 2017, the newly elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, helped set the stage for a year that will be very much remembered for the Jesuits’ care for people at the margins.

January 1, 2018 — As the new year begins, Jesuits.org invites you to reflect on 2017 with this Ignatian Annual Examen courtesy of Xavier University’s Jesuitresource.org.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 11/13/17

America 10/30/17

America 10/29/17



Jesuit Spirituality Center
Situated on 900 acres of farmland, the Jesuit Spirituality Center at Grand Coteau provides a quiet environment for those seeking God through the Spiritual Exercises.