In the education and spiritual outreach program “Finding the Way in Jail,” it is stated that the reader should “think about his biggest worry at this time.” It also “brings up the question of the meaning of life,” “challenges the man to take the first step in finding a new way to live,” and “opens a discussion on what the Bible is.”Gonzalo de Vivero, the program’s co-author and founder of Finding the Way Publications Inc., has taken these steps to heart in living his own life — a life that now finds him as the new co-director of the archdiocesan Office of Restorative Justice, having succeeded Father George Horan, who co-led the office for more than 15 years.A self-described “simple person educated in the love of Christ,” de Vivero still wonders why he was chosen for the position, although he has served as a jail chaplain more than 15 years. When he was offered the position, he was hesitant. “I didn’t want to leave my ministry,” the 64-year-old Our Lady of Grace (Encino) parishioner says, and in fact he didn’t have to. But, he acknowledges, he welcomes the opportunity to offer his expertise in overseeing the work of nine full-time chaplains in nine detention facilities with a total population of about 20,000 prisoners.Growing upHis role is something he could not have imagined growing up as the “baby” of eight children, all born in the District of Pueblo Libre, Lima, Peru’s capital city. His extended, devoutly Catholic family of about 70 people (his mother was the youngest of 14) regularly gathered at his home after attending church, or before heading to his grandmother’s home to prepare to go to the beach.But when Gonzalo turned 10, as his grandmother aged, his home became the family hangout, and he began having mixed feelings about the gatherings. “It was a great joy to see all the family,” he says. “But at the same time it was a burden because it seemed like the party was never over. You prepare food for a party, you cook and afterwards you have to clean up — a lot of work.”He also recalls how his uncles teased him because he had anger issues, which he was reluctant to discuss. “Prisons mirror society,” he says reflectively. “Many times in the family environment we don’t talk or discuss certain issues; there is a lack of communication, or we are taught how to hide the family secrets.”At the same time, though, he appreciates that his parents hired indigenous women to work as cleaning ladies at their home, paid them to go to school and when they graduated, they left for a better life. It was a lesson in kindness he never forgot. “For my father there weren’t social levels,” says de Vivero. “He was friendly with everybody.”Dealing with issuesBut as united as his family appeared, they also hid some secrets — including de Vivero’s own battle with alcohol. “I was restless, defiant, and my mother could not handle me,” he says. He was also a “bad student,” but today he realizes that probably happened because of his artistic affinity. He was not the kind of student who could sit for hours in front of a teacher, but he could spend hours building airplanes, or furniture. Today, he happily admits to being a recovered alcoholic and drug addict who can relate to many prisoners who have gone through similar circumstances. He attributes his rehabilitation and turnaround to his own family, having for the last 46 years been married to his wife Virginia, who he met in his native Peru and married when they were in their late teens.Together they moved to Los Angeles in 1967, where one of his brothers already lived. It was here where he discovered his ability to paint, a skill that helped pay his household bills. He learned to paint landscapes, animals and surrealistic figures, all of which, he says, reflect his own life.Unfortunately, it was also here where his addictions grew as he lived a rather bohemian lifestyle. Those were dark times, made darker by his 12-year-old son Javier’s death in an accident.Eventually, bolstered by family love and more involvement in church, the dark times started fading — especially in the mid-1990s, after a woman religious at church saw de Vivero’s potential to work in prison ministry and connected him with another nun who was a prison chaplain.“The work with prisoners awakened in me something I had never felt before,” he says of those first encounters with prisoners. Eventually, he was hired as a chaplain at a state prison in 1997 and gradually founded Finding the Way Publications Inc. and co-authored “Finding the Way in Jail” with Father Gerard Weber, former general editor of the Benzinger Religious Education Series.Multi-faceted With an affinity for art, developed when working for a wall décor business in Los Angeles, de Vivero also has an affinity for administrative duties, having once owned a small art décor business. His artistic skills, combined with his love for his family and his passion for detention ministry, are now serving him well in directing movies.His first movie, featuring his young grandchildren, essentially describes what he has done for the last 16 years of his life. In the movie, people live happily until they are threatened by a monster that fights with four “fantastic heroes” (the four children) who put the monster in jail, where he repents and then is forgiven.“This is what we do here,” he says, referring to the prison ministry he now oversees.He is always finding creative ways to stay close to his four grandchildren, he says, with the goal of instilling in and among them “a sense of unity.” Two of them are the son and daughter of his own daughter Marisa, a marine biology college professor who graduated from Loyola Marymount University, and two are the son and daughter of his son Luis, a UCLA security sergeant. “My goal is that they love each other so much that they learn to work together and help each other,” he says of his grandchildren, who live walking distance from his home, and who he takes to school twice a week in a van he purchased specifically to drive them back and forth to school.“There’s nothing more important than family,” he adds.To contact the Office of Restorative Justice, call (213) 438-4820. 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