“The Lord Sent Cardinal DiNardo”

Prisoners in a Houston, Texas prison were grateful that, for the first time in history, a Galveston-Houston archbishop visited them at the W.F. Ramsey prison farm. It was the first time in 108 years. Cardinal DiNardo confirmed seven inmates in the Catholic faith…

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, bishop of the Houston-Galveston diocese, is the first cardinal to visit the W.F. Ramsey Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in its 108 years as a prison. Cardinal DiNardo is one of five cardinals leading American dioceses, and, in his role as vice ­president of the Council of Bishops, was among those who met with Pope Francis when he visited Washington in September. He was also selected by Pope Francis to attend the October Synod on the Family in Rome.

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Pope Francis blesses inmate Ron Cianci during a visit to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia September 27, 2015 (CNS photo/Todd Heisler, pool)

Cardinal DiNardo gra­cious­ly greeted everyone attending the Mass for the feast of St. James, which included the Confirmation of seven inmates. Volunteer catechists had instructed the men in the teachings of the Church. After his homily, which focused on the sacrifice of James as a servant of Christ, and how each of us — including himself — should embrace the martyr’s humility, he laid hands on the candidates. With holy chrism he sealed each man in the Holy Spirit, making the sign of the cross on his forehead.

Joining the eight volunteers were Fr. Jude Ezuma, parochial vicar at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and Fr. Sixtus Iwuji, the Ramsey Prison chaplain, as well as the diocesan film crew.

Cardinal DiNardo spoke privately with each of the seven candidates: Michael Wisdom, Enrique Garcia, Rodolfo Ortiz, Carlos Zambrano, Leonardo Guardiola, Able Luna, and Anthony Waters. Each candidate had selected a saint’s name as his Confirmation name to serve as a model to aid him on his journey. Each man had attended weekly instruction on the teachings of the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) for approximately one year.

Cardinal DiNardo greeted everyone with a warm smile, handshakes, and autographs. His message to the prisoners and their loved ones was to be patient and stay in touch with Jesus. His message to humanity is that God loves us, wants us to come to Him, and that the only way to Him is to love one another.

Testimonials of the Confirmandi The Confirmation ceremony with Cardinal DiNardo on the feast day of the martyr St. James was humbling and deeply transformative for many prisoners.

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Ciro: “I was touched by my Protestant friends who attended and how moved they were by the cardinal’s down-to-earth manner and how he spoke warmly to each of the candidates as well as to everyone else. I was smiling after receiving Communion and smile every time I think of looking into the cardinal’s eyes when he said, ‘The Body of Christ.’ The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) teachers, especially the volunteers, were all living examples of the Gospels. My joy is complete.”

Rudy: “I was blessed to finally be confirmed. I had separated from the Church as a teen and never made my Confirmation… Then our Lord sent Cardinal DiNardo to confirm seven of us prisoners into the Church. My mom was so excited that she cried on the phone. …I am so grateful to everyone who taught me to follow the truth back to Jesus. There is one holy apostolic and Catholic Church.

Enrique: “I was received warmly into the Catholic Church by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo on July 25th. The most important part for me was when I got up from my metal chair in a 100 degree room resembling a parking garage, which was transformed for me when I received Communion for the first time. I had waited a long time for this and was and still am overwhelmed.”

Steve: “I was received warmly into the Catholic Church this past weekend in a special celebration offered by Cardinal DiNardo. I am so grateful to the many Catholics who have helped in this journey to embrace the true Holy Spirit. I am so thankful that I can go to Mass and receive Communion. I am working on saying thank you more instead of ‘I need’ this or that, because of the love I found in the Church.”

Tony: “I came to the Catholic faith in a round-about manner, growing up Baptist. I was instructed to stay away from Catholics. The reasons were a mystery and the unspoken only fostered mystery and suspicion… My eyes were opened when I accidentally attended a post-service RCIA group.

“I listened to the discussion on forgiveness and was amazed.”

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