Families with loved ones in prison can often feel isolated, and a new initiative is setting out to change that. Deacons Paulino Juarez and Louis Roche, prison ministry leaders in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, are reaching out to families of the incarcerated and raising awareness in local communities of the suffering and challenges that these families face. 

The new program, run by the archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace, was launched Jan. 12 at St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood. “We provide these families with food, clothes, resources as far as getting them identification cards and getting them medical help. Some people need help with substance abuse, so we are trying to pair these families with resources that they need,” Deacon Roche said. 

Deacon Juarez said that part of their goal is to “break the cycle.” Because some of the inmates have children, the ministry is also trying to put the kids through school, so they have better opportunities in the future. Both deacons have found that the majority of these families suffer greatly from isolation and rejection, and are really looking for a community of support. “The day that we did the opening, one of the mothers of a man who had just been sentenced to the death penalty shared with me her experience of going to his church with her daughters. When people realized who she was, they moved from the pews,” Deacon Juarez said. 

“They really feel not welcomed, and this was the kind of experience that they had on a daily basis. We want to stop that — we want to create consciousness within the community that these people are suffering, too.” 

For more information on the Ministry of Assistance to the Families of the Incarcerated, contact Deacon Louis Roche at 213-278-5989. The program operates Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 10850 Moorpark St., North Hollywood. To schedule an appointment, call and leave a message at 213-637-7532. 

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