Jesuit Brother Pat Douglas, of the Wisconsin Province, is a youth counselor at the St. Francis Mission in South Dakota, and he works with young men at the juvenile detention center on the Lakota Rosebud Reservation. He sees his ministry as a way of making an impact on young people in trouble.
Spirituality is very strong here, Br. Douglas says. The Lakota people see no separation between counseling and spirituality.
Douglas has developed a mentoring program for young men, “many [who are] active in gangs and from families plagued by alcoholism and abuse.
“I’m all for consequences,” Douglas says, “but if we do not address the hurts these young men have had since they were children, they will keep hurting others. To be empathetic to a perpetrator does not mean you condone what they do.”
Douglas sees Jesuit spirituality coming alive through his work.
“I pray before and after I meet with the guys,” he says. “I also know the limitations of my skills, and have many times asked questions or offered advice that I know is beyond me. I consistently feel the Holy Spirit working with me and these young men.”
For more on Jesuits engaged in prison ministry, visit the Wisconsin Province website.