12/28/2012 12:44:00 PM Visit of statue boosts prison spirituality
Photo courtesy of Robynne Ariel Fauley
Bishop Steiner and William Sockey at entry to prison.
SALEM — An image of Mary was recently a big hit at several Oregon prisons. The official traveling statue of Our Lady of Fatima was in Oregon, and the World Apostolate of Fatima slated visits to Oregon State Penitentiary here, the federal prison in Sheridan and Columbia River Correctional Institution in Northeast Portland.
More than 100 prisoners came for prayer and devotions, including some men on death row who have converted to Catholicism. Locked in cages with hands and feet shackled, the inmates prayed silently.
"It was like sitting in front of monks in their cells," says prison minister Robynne Ariel Fauley. "They pray the rosary all day."
One death row inmate, Jeff Tiner, spends much of his time raising funds for Catholic causes. He has helped bring other prisoners to the faith. Auxiliary Bishop Kenneth Steiner, who attended the sessions, gave absolution and hugged Tiner and other inmates through the bars. The bishop has long visited area prisons.
"It was something powerful for me," Bishop Steiner says. "I wish I had done this earlier."
Prison officials at first refused the visit, but Fauley kept asking.
In Sheridan, Bishop Steiner presided at a Mass that included English and Spanish. Many of the Hispanic men spontaneously knelt before the statue of Mary.
"It was very, very touching to see these hardened criminals kneeling all around her," Fauley says. "Like little chicks all humble and surrendered around the Mother. A peace filled the room that was rich and deep."
With the bishop and Fauley on the visits were Lisa Brady, Marie Ostermann and William Sockey, custodian of the statue.