Following its tradition, the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s Office of Restorative Justice held a Christmas party for the families of incarcerated men and women at Fire Station #17 in Los Angeles on Dec. 20.

The event, held in two sessions, featured a chicken fajitas lunch, postcard-making and poem-writing tables, a walk-through fire engine tour and a piñata-busting Santa and Frosty the Snowman. The children also received wrapped gifts.

“During the year, one of our ministries is to the families of the incarcerated,” said Gonzalo DeVivero, co-director of the Restorative Justice Office. “The whole idea of what we are trying to do this year more than any year is to remind everybody, and especially ourselves, that we are one.

“So the focus is not just to give the children a gift,” he pointed out. “The focus is to start to reunite them and to bring them to our support groups that can help these families deal with their reality that their loved ones are incarcerated.”

Anaheim restaurant Casa 7 Mares provided the hot lunch again this year. Its owner knows well the pain of family separation when a parent goes to jail or prison. Aura Amaya served five years, from the end of 2007 to 2012, in the Los Angeles County Century Regional Facility for women in Lynwood.

“It’s really, really hard when you’re locked up and have kids,” the 42-year-old mother of four told The Tidings. “I had three children then, so I know the feeling. I know their loneliness. What Gonzalo is doing right now is amazing. Seeing all these kids, their happiness, their smiles, that’s my payoff. And I’m doing this to give back to the community.”