By: Christi W. - Colwich, Kansas
I could never have imagined what the Lord had in mind for me two years ago when I said, "yes," to attending a Discovering Christ session at my parish in Colwich, Kansas. Like many Catholics, I was just going through the motions at Mass—putting in my time and leaving my faith at the doorstep on the way out. I may have intellectually known who Christ is, but I did not have any real connection in my heart for what I was sharing at Mass or experiencing with my faith community. Deep inside, I knew I was in desperate need of an awakening.
During the Discovering Christ retreat, I took part in the intercessory prayer time and received a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Since that moment, nothing has been the same in my spiritual life! Prior to Discovering Christ, I was scared to share my faith, but now have an extraordinary courage. Bad habits that I couldn’t break, now seem easier to overcome. I was previously a once-a-week Mass attendee and never considered daily Mass possible. Early one morning in January of this year, the Lord woke me up at 5:30 AM and moved my heart to go to Mass. I have been striving to go to daily Mass ever since! In addition to daily Mass, I have started spending as much time as possible in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. My work supervisor, who is not Catholic, made the comment that she has seen me change in ways that she never expected, to the point where she has asked herself, “Who is this person?” That is what the Holy Spirit has done for me – awakened my faith and transformed me from the inside out.
Not only was the Lord transforming my heart and soul, but he was preparing me for mission. For years, he has gently been calling me to bring his message of love and healing to the incarcerated. In April, I started volunteering in prison ministry at El Dorado Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison northeast of Wichita, Kansas. Due to staffing shortages and the integration of offenders from two other facilities, El Dorado has been experiencing violent uprisings that have left multiple people injured and kept the facility on lock-down for weeks at a time. During these weeks, volunteers are not allowed onsite and inmates do not have Mass due to safety concerns.
I have never been afraid to go into the prison—I feel like the Holy Spirit has given me a supernatural courage to do the work he has asked of me. The presence of Jesus and his desire to pour out his mercy on the men in this facility is so palpable that it has brought me to tears at times. The men that I have met are hungry for the faith and possess a gratitude for the sacraments that is both beautiful and humbling. Now, more than ever, I believe God is calling on "laborers for the harvest" to bring his message of love and mercy to our brothers and sisters in prison. As the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts through the ChristLife ministry, it is our hope that we can share that same love with the souls at El Dorado and other facilities in Kansas.