Bishop Richard Malone celebrated Mass in Spanish Tuesday afternoon with a group of about 600 detainees inside the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia. Many of the detainees are serving time for immigration violations. His visit was inspired by Matthew 25:37 "I was in prison and you visited me."
Less than 24 hours later, Bishop Malone entered Attica State Prison, where more than 60 inmates attended Mass. A resounding "I do" echoed through the gymnasium of this maximum security facility which, on this day, was transformed into church. In the very front row, some of the nine men who received the sacrament of confirmation that day wore matching green prison slacks and name-tags bearing the names of the saints who they hope to emulate like Jude, Francis and Gabriel. They responded with conviction to each question as they renewed their Baptismal promises.
"Jesus is very close to you today," said Bishop Malone to the confirmands. "Open your hearts and realize the spirit of God himself is about to come to you." Bishop Malone reminded them that they are becoming 'soldiers of Christ' and, as the title implies, it may involve loyalty, bravery and risk, but it comes with a certain grace. "We have to make the decision ourselves to live that grace," said Bishop Malone.
A choir was made up of more than a dozen volunteers from a prison ministry called Residents Encounter Christ. After leading the inmates in the Serenity Prayer, Sister Rosalind Rosolowski, Catholic chaplain at Attica Prison thanked Bishop Malone for spending the day with the inmates. "It shows how much love you have for us and how much love we have for you," said Sister Rosalind.