The second plenary sessions at the Religious Education Association 2014 conference was devoted to field trips to various locations in Chicago that are working for nonviolence. One field trip was to the a href=”http://www.swopchicago.org/home.aspx”>Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP); a second trip went to the John Marshall Law School Restorative Justice Project. I chose to go to Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR) in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago.
At PRMR, we met with Father David Kelly, a Catholic priest affiliated with the Precious Blood missionaries, and three young men who participated in PBMR programs. Father Kelly said that he had been involved with various prison and inner city ministries before helping to organize PBMR. In his experience, he had found that the criminal justice system is primarily adversarial in nature, and that it does not provide any real support to either perpetrators nor victims. And at times he found himself in situations where he had a relationship with both the victim and the perpetrator of a crime — how could he minister effectively to both?