November 8, 2013

Letters to the Editor

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Column leads to reader’s change of heart about the death penalty

I read with interest the “For the Journey” column written by Effie Caldarola in the Oct. 11 issue of The Criterion. The article featured the headline, “We are all called to represent the presence of God on Earth.”

The writer was relaying her experience with spending time with Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille Sister Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, and spiritual director to inmate Elmo Patrick Sonnier, who was awaiting execution on death row.

Nebraska is very close to repealing the death penalty, and Sister Helen was invited to speak to officials in hopes of aiding in the success of the repeal.

I had seen the movie Dead Man Walking a number of years ago, and was very touched by Sister Helen’s empathy, kindness, love and dedication to the inmate, but I was still in favor of the death penalty.

Many years ago, I had written a paper in college supporting the idea that the death penalty was a deterrent to capital crime.

However, when I read the column in The Criterion where Caldarola states “that Nebraskans are too good for this failed system, this method of killing to prove killing is wrong,” it opened my eyes to the absurdity of that practice. She also stated that repeal of the death penalty is a pro-life Catholic issue.

I had never looked at it that way, and being a pro-life advocate, that made sense to me. The column went on to say, “Every human life deserves dignity no matter what sins we have committed, and we are all sinners before a merciful God.”

Sister Helen told inmate Sonnier “to keep his eyes on her because she would be the face of Christ for him.” Caldarola said, “We are called to be the presence of God, called to be his hands on this Earth …”

This also made me think that God is all-merciful. He forgave the thief on the cross at Jesus’ crucifixion, and showed us that we should all show mercy to others.

This article changed my view of the death penalty. The idea of killing to prove killing is wrong is absurd.

- Barbara Davis-Hinkle | Connersville

Final Mass at St. Mary Magdalene a time to remember and grieve

Members of St. Mary Magdalene Parish in New Marion recently endured the pain and suffering of closing for the second time in the history of the church.

The church was closed the first time in 1941 when the the government took over, and it became the Jefferson Proving Ground. The church and the land they lived on was taken, and the beautiful church was bombed!

We cannot even walk on the ground anymore to look because of unexploded ammunition. This was done within weeks, leaving people physically, mentally and emotionally scarred. Our beloved and faithful dead had to be moved.

My uncle and aunt, ages 90 and 86, live two blocks away from our church, attended Mass every week but could not go to our final Mass because of the grief they are going through again. Our parish family, once more, is shattered and scattered. All we wanted was to keep Jesus in our small community.

God chose a small and simple place for Jesus our Lord and Savior to come to us. He gathered his disciples and Mary in a small room when the Holy Spirit came, and thus began our Catholic faith, and then again in a small upper room to bring himself to us in the Eucharist.

Wow, this shows how strong faith is in our small and simple churches. Ours and many more to come will be extinct. Children from now on will not be able to experience the love of our small churches.

Our last Mass on Oct. 27 was celebrated beautifully by Father Joe Newton, who had only been our priest for about a month. He was joined by two of our former priests, Father Frank Eckstein and Father Darvin Winters, who concelebrated the Mass, and Deacon Mike Gardner. Our parish wants to very humbly thank them for coming back. It truly meant a great deal.

We thank all the ones who helped in any way, and for all who came and prayed with us. The church and hall were packed. A catered grand buffet was served to all.

We want to thank Our Blessed Mother, and St. Mary Magdalene for standing at the foot of the cross once more.

- Mary Jane Hunter | New Marion

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