Matthew 25 Moment
The article and photo are by Sister Susan Smolinsky, a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Halifax. She serves as a county jail chaplain in New York.
When I arrived back in new admits (72 hours quarantine pre pandemic) to begin my usual rounds, the women had been locked in all day due to an earlier disturbance. The officer indicated it was now safe for me to proceed and I walked toward a single hand and forearm reaching out to me through the waist high drawer (4”x 12” opening) in her gate (cell door). Immediately her hand grasped mine as she talked, sobbed and I listened. She was eager for comfort, company and understanding. After a while she asked me to help her pray and, as we ended our prayer, I offered a blessing that I shared slowly and carefully. As she bowed her head, I traced the sign of the cross on her palm – and then she knelt so I could reach in and do the same on her forehead. When she responded ‘amen’ I suddenly heard a chorus of ‘amens’ travel around the cellblock! I looked up to the top tier and around the lower tier – at every gate a woman was standing and smiling at me. I was surrounded by two dozen hands stretching out to me, accompanied by voices longing for hope and thanking me for being with them. I then proceeded to listen to, visit with and pray with each one of them. All those hungry, thirsty, wounded, bare, lonely, imprisoned hands….the hands of God that reached out, touched and held my hands on one simple summer afternoon.
Sister Susan J. Smolinsky, SC
Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Halifax