A few weeks ago I was blessed to bump into my friend in ministry Petra Alexander at the 2nd National Catholic Symposium on Hispanic Ministry. I was happy to hear that her very important and much needed resource is finally available through World Library Publication. The 111 page paperback is available in English and Spanish and was co-written by Petra Alexander and Gerardo Gómez. It includes letters of recommendations from Bishop Gerald R. Barnes – Diocese of San Bernardino and Bishop Ricardo J Garcia-Diocese of Monterey.

An Imprisoned HeartFirst, I need to mention that I LOVE the title- “Corazón Prisionero- An Imprisoned Heart”- not only because it is fitting to the reality faced by many in our Hispanic/Latino community, but also because it sounds like it should be the name of a Telenovela. I am not trying to make like of this reality but in a way, the drama and emotion experienced by families and loved ones, is one that we often see portrayed daily in telenovelas. I just think it’s very catchy and appealing!

One of the greatest injustices in this country is that the penal system is so skewed for U.S. Latinos as well as African Americans. In 2010, the Prison Policy initiative reported that Latinos are 2.5 more likely to be imprisoned than Whites and in California Hispanics/Latinos are overrepresented in prisons and jails. This reality leaves many family members and loved ones in disarray and grieving for their loved ones. As pastoral ministers, there is much need to accompany family members of the incarcerated. This little book pushes us to view Detention/Prison Ministry as one that visits those who are imprisoned but also includes all who are impacted by it.

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The book is laid out in five chapters that address the five stages of loss and grief- Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Each chapter utilizes a practical theology approach/methodology that begins by presenting the experience/reality of those impacted by the imprisonment of a loved one. That experience then comes into dialogue with a stage of loss and grief in order to help the reader identify the wound that needs healing. The reader then is offered time for prayer/reflection as means to begin the healing process. Last, practical suggestions are offered and each chapter ends with a testimony of someone who has experienced the stage of grief. The appendix in the book also provides a guide to the legal process in the U.S., which can be of great benefit for recently immigrated communities.

This resource is a fantastic addition for any pastoral minister’s library and it would be of great benefit for parishes to keep them in stock. If you read it or utilized it, leave a comment below sharing your experience and thoughts.

2014 © Patty Jiménez.  All Rights Reserved.

Featured Image by FreeDigitalPhotos.net-sakhorn38, Book image by WLP, Graphs by Prison Policy Initiative.