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

May 20, 2015 — The vocational call came early for Jesuit Father Jonathan Haschka — when he was just a freshman at his Jesuit high school.

May 18, 2015 — Nearly 300 Jesuits will gather at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles this June — all Canadian and U.S. Jesuits currently in formation and their provincials.

May 12, 2015 — Jesuits are responding to the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 and has killed over 4,000 people.

May 15, 2015 — Tiny, a three-legged golden retriever born with a deformed right front leg, has a new prosthetic leg thanks to a computer science class at Xavier University.

May 13, 2015 — Jesuit Father Richard McGowan is nicknamed “Padre Pecado” — the “Priest of Sin” — due to his status as a leading expert on the economics of alcohol and gambling.

May 12, 2015 — Last year, 21 Jesuits in Canada and the U.S. were called to final vows, and many took the opportunity to reflect on the greatest blessing of their Jesuit vocation.

May 11, 2015 — Nativity Preparatory School, a Jesuit middle school, has transformed the lives of young men with a tuition-free, first-class education since its founding in 1990.

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 - 5/25/15-6/1/15

America - 5/18/15

America - 5/11/15



Loyola Retreat House
Situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, Loyola Retreat House is located 35 miles south of Washington, D.C., in southern Maryland.