This is the Night: When Christ Broke the Prison Bars of Death

The presentation by Fr. Christian Reuter, OFM, and several of his prison associates is taken from the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) and loosely models the liturgical structure of the Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil. The theme of the evening of reflection and prayer follows the Processional: Light the Fire!, Words of Wisdom: Tell the Story!, Faith Response: Sign Me Up!, and Recessional: Open the Door! The presentation will help us understand how we got into this "dark night" in criminal justice that our bishops have labeled "a broken system." Then, following the lead of Pope Francis, we will discern ways that we can "Open the Door of Mercy" during this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy to criminal justice reform.

Metro East Vicariate Adopts Our Brothers' Keepers of Southern Illinois


On December 8, 2015 the Solemnity of Mary's Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis will open the "Holy Door" of St.Peter's Basilica in Rome to inaugurate an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

"On that day", he wrote. "the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope."

The Metro East Vicariate which comprises Catholic parishes in Belleville, Cahokia, Caseyville, Columbia, Dupo, East St. Louis and Fairmont City has joined together to support "Our Brothers' Keepers," as its own special way of welcoming "returning citizens" from our broken criminal justice system. OBK is a faith-based organization dedicated to the full integration of formerly incarcerated persons, including housing, in St. Clair County.

This is in keeping with the Jubilee of Mercy which has as its focus forgiveness and mercy. Pope Francis said, "Pardoning offences becomes the clearest expression of merciful love, and for us Christians it is an imperative from which we cannot excuse ourselves. At times how hard it seems to forgive! And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart." 

During the "Jubilee Year of Mercy," the "Holy Door" at St. Peter Cathederal in Belleville, IL will be opened on Sunday at 10:30 AM December 13, 2015 and close on November 13, 2016. On Sunday, November 6, 2016 the Jubilee of prisoners will be celebrated in St. Peters Basilica, Rome.

Bishop Schlarman - A Big Thanks from OBK for Dreaming Big!

Bishop Schlarman has retired from his duties as Vicar of Priests for the Belleville Diocese (July 14, 2015). On his 82nd birthday (July 27) in a very energetic spirit he said, "the game is still on."
Bishop Stanley Schlarman always DREAMS BIG! One of his big dreams was to establish a "returning citizens" home for those leaving prison on parole. A place they could call "home" and receive the spiritual formation, social services and the work skills to successfully reenter the community as responsible citizens.
This dream became a reality in 2013 when Bishop Schlarman and Fr. Reuter (Diocesan Coordinator of Prison Ministry) formed a group that later was named Our Brothers' Keepers of Southern Illinois. OBK was incorporated in the State of Ilinois (2014) and became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit group (2015). OBK is working to evaluate several properties that could be the "home" for those coming out of the prison system.
Bishop Stanley has served on the Board of Directors (2014-2015) and will now assist OBK as a member of the Advisory Board. He will continue to assist in making presentations about OBK and prison ministry to various organizations in the Diocese. In addition, he will continue his prison ministry at Menard Correctional Center in Chester, IL
All of us at OBK are indebted to working with Bishop Stanley and experiencing the Joy of the Gospel through his gracious smile, kind words and sassy spirit. He continues to serve the people of God and make the world a brighter place by celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation and the Eucharistic celebrations in the Belleville Diocese and our state prisons.

Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016)

Pope Francis has proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church. We want to live this Jubilee Year in light of the Lord's words: Merciful like the Father ... dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us. The Holy Year of Mercy fall within the sacred observances which began with the Mosaic law. The jubilee, the Lord stresses, "shall be sacred for you. You may only eat what the field yields of itself," (Lv. 25:11-12). Beyond matters of farming and property, though, lies the real heart of the jubilee: "Do not deal unfairly with one another," says the Lord, "but stand in fear of your God. I, the Lord, am your God."

In a holy year, the Bible says, land shall be restored to its original owners, debt forgiven, slaves liberated and family members cared for.

The bottom line: We are called to treat one another with fairness, kindness and mercy.

Holy Year: Rooted in Mercy and Jubilee of Holy Doors

Pope Francis has proclaimed that 2016 will be an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, to begin in this holy season of God's coming.

"The Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope."

Our preparation to enter the Jubilee Door of Our Lives begins by stoping to give thanks for all the doors God opens for us and reflect on Christ, the door to the Father, who knocks at the doors of our hearts, our homes and our churches.