To the Corrections Officers of the Ferguson Unit Prison, Texas
To the Corrections Officers of the Ferguson Unit:
As a volunteer with the chaplain’s office, a preacher to prisoners, and a frequent visitor to your prison, I want to extend to you my prayers and my thoughts.
Your job is a difficult one. You are trained for suspicion and surrounded by negativity, which keeps you safe and alive, but perhaps that leaves you more negative at home, more cynical, and with a harder edge in your relationships outside the unit. A grueling job, especially in the summer time in Texas, has got to be almost impossible to not carry home.
You witness acts of violence, have received such acts yourselves, and are always mindful that such violence is unpredictable and, thus, ever-present. It hangs there, in every room, cell, or hallway as a potential reality. And yet, day after day you return.
Your job demands the best of your humanity as you watch over those who exhibit the worst that humanity has done. You stand guard both for and against the inmates. You protect them, literally throwing yourself into the middle of fights, putting your life on the line. You protect yourself and your fellow guards against sometimes the very same people that yesterday you were keeping from harm. This is not an easy burden to bear. Many of you, tougher than tough, bear this burden alone.
Perhaps you see us Christian men walking into the prison to give inmates Scripture, prayers, support, and even food and ask yourselves, “Why are serving them and ignoring us? We are the good guys and we don’t even get a thank you for our work!”
Thank you! Thank you for being there. Thank you for standing on the line, the wall, in the cell block. Thank you for being human when nothing around you seems all that human. Thank you for choosing the high road, the difficult road, the seemingly impossible road. My guess is that you have seen too much of “man’s inhumanity to man”.
Though I do not know you, nor you me, I see you working hard. I see you standing on your feet for hours. I see you walking the halls. I see your vigilance in the chapel, enabling men to receive the Word of God and be given a chance to change their lives.
Your work enables me to do my work. I preach without fear of my safety because you are the watchmen on the walls. If my work can ever bless your work, if I can be a help to you, your families, or your own mental or spiritual health, I’m here. We’re here.
God love you,
Coordinator of Evangelization at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.