Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Saturday, April 30, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Pacifica Senior Living - Calaroga Terrace

Home : News : Nation and World
7/14/2014 8:20:00 AM
Faith influences one-of-a-kind court in helping offenders change lives
Catholic News Service photo
Judge David Certo, of the Indianapolis Community Court, talks with St. Patrick Parish volunteer Marsha Fecht, at the Officer David S. Moore Foundation Food Pantry at the court. The pantry is one of many efforts by the court to help offenders change their lives.
Catholic News Service photo
Judge David Certo, of the Indianapolis Community Court, talks with St. Patrick Parish volunteer Marsha Fecht, at the Officer David S. Moore Foundation Food Pantry at the court. The pantry is one of many efforts by the court to help offenders change their lives. "Our first priority is making our community safer," says Certo, a Catholic. "But how we're going to get there is a conversation we should have more often."
Catholic News Service

INDIANAPOLIS — A courtroom isn't a place that most people associate with compassion, second chances and a judge who is described as "walking the beatitudes."

Yet spend some time in Indianapolis Community Court, talk with Judge David Certo and the stories start to flow about the steadfast hope and remarkable sense of human dignity that guide this court -- the only one of its kind in Indiana.

The stories sometimes depict how a life has been transformed -- like the homeless, jobless man who had been arrested several times for alcohol-related offenses. He grasped the court's offer of a second chance, performed community service and entered a treatment program. Eventually, he was able to get his own home, and he found a job as a substance abuse counselor.

There also are the stories of mothers helping to feed and clothe their families through the court's food pantry and donated clothing pantry -- assistance that is available both to offenders who come to court and struggling, vulnerable people from across the city.

The court also helps veterans get housing, medical treatment and job training.

It's all part of a court that believes in helping people strive for a  better life, a court that has a strong influence of Catholic faith --  including the leadership of former seminarian Certo, the compassion of numerous food pantry volunteers and the service of high school students.

"Our first priority is making our community safer," said Certo, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. "But how we're going to get there is a conversation we should have more often. In our line of work, we know life is hard for people. We don't want to make it any harder.

"Part of what we do is just helping people. The fact that I want to get to heaven fuels what I do, too," he told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. "It's about all of us treating each other as neighbors."

During a recent court session, defendants included a well-groomed college student in a blue sports jacket, a young woman who took time off work to be in court, and a weary-looking man who told the judge that his car broke down and he supports his wife and son with a job that pays $10 an hour.

All had committed low-level, nonviolent, nonsexual crimes -- many of them shoplifting and alcohol-related charges. And all agreed to plead guilty with the understanding that the charges would be dismissed if they completed some combination of community service, a treatment program and a session about the impact of their crime on the community -- and the stipulation that they aren't arrested again within 60 days.

Officials try to set up court appearances sessions that accommodate a person's work, school and family schedules.

"My theory is that government can be pretty good about mailing you a check, but not good about asking how you are, how your kids are," Certo said. "In our classes, we ask them about their goals. We try to help them get jobs. If you complete the program and get a job, we'll give you a bike to get to work. ... Our goal is to try to get them from a bad place to a better place."

The court also offers free haircuts, bus passes, legal services and testing for sexually-transmitted diseases.

In 2013, 1,561 people entered the community court, with 1,039 finishing the program -- for a successful completion rate of 67 percent.

"In our model, the community benefits, too, because you have to do community service," the judge said.

Offenders clean up abandoned properties, stock shelves at food banks, and pick up trash in alleys and along interstates.

The goal is to keep them from coming back to court, "but if it doesn't work out, we're going to hold them accountable," Certo said.

That can mean jail time. Still, the overall approach is reflected in his decision to convert a conference room into a food pantry, named in honor of Indianapolis police officer David Moore. The 2000 graduate of Roncalli Catholic High School in Indianapolis died Jan. 26, 2011, three days after being shot four times while making a traffic stop.

"This is the face of Jesus right here," said Mary Anne Schaefer,  director of the pantry, referring to about 50 individuals and families who have come on a recent Thursday afternoon.

Schaefer is a pastoral associate at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, yet she's also part of a group of people from her parish and several others who volunteer at the food pantry when it's open five times a month.

Teachers, students and parents of Bishop Chatard Catholic High School in Indianapolis also help out regularly.

"In the last three years, we've served over 8,000 individuals," Schaefer said. "We serve the neighborhood at large -- people from all denominations, of all ages."

Schaefer excused herself to help a young mother with two small sons. She smiled at the mom, joked with the children and made sure they walked away with a few grocery bags that included meat, vegetables, cereal, potatoes, bread and desserts.

"On my off days and free days, this is my passion," she said, returning to her conversation with a reporter. "How do you walk away from Jesus? This is the walk. This is the journey. You have the opportunity to humble yourself for the people who are here. We see Jesus every time we're here."

Certo, a father of four, said he sees the court's approach as a team effort.

As he walked from his office to the courtroom, Certo passed under a sign that reads, "Judge Like A Champion Today."

A gift from his wife, Megan, the sign reflects his connection with the University of Notre Dame and the longtime theme of the school's football team, "Play Like A Champion Today." A 1993 graduate, Certo said Notre Dame's emphasis on making a difference in the world is one of the approaches that guide him.

"I have the great privilege of integrating my work with the things I believe in," he said. "My dad died young. That taught me a lot about living. If I get hit by a bus, I don't want to make apologies.

"You can treat people with dignity and respect. I think you get better outcomes with that approach. Ultimately, we all want a safer, more humane society. Even when people struggle, I know we can get there."

Article Comment Submissions
Submit your comments, please. 
Comments are reviewed before being posted to the site. Comments must use respectful language and address the story. Comments are not posted immediately to the site. The site editor may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours. Comments may also be considered to appear as letters in our print edition, unless the writer specifices no.
Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved