“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.” These words from the first letter of St. Peter invites us to reflect on the hope we hold, and if so, why we have this hope.
Upon reading this passage, I immediately thought about my journey, about two years ago to this date, of accompanying a young woman through the RCIA process as she was held in custody at a local correctional facility and preparing to be transferred to state prison. Every week, for five months, “Olivia” and I would meet to discuss the sacraments and reflect on her faith journey. I had learned of Olivia’s offense and I hold deep sorrow for the harm she caused, and I believe she did too. And, probably still does.In one of my last meetings with Olivia, she shared about some of the hopes she has, despite not knowing what would be awaiting for her at the prison. Her reasons for this hope were always rooted in faith and in God. And, I will always remember the gentleness she had in her voice and the reverence she held when leading prayer for us as we closed out our sessions together. Christ was truly in her heart.
I am hopeful that where Olivia is, that she knows she is loved and seen by God. I am hopeful that she continues to seek forgiveness and mercy and firmly believes and knows that she is and will always be a child of God. The reason for my hope lies in a deep belief and faith that something unseen—something bigger, deeper, and more powerful than what I can even imagine, is always taking place in encounters we have, and especially in places that may seem without hope. In indescribable ways, God continues to show up, and my reasons for hope are continually affirmed.
Crystal Catalan serves as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Presentation High School in San Jose, CA. She holds degrees from the University of San Diego and Eastern University, and previously served as a missioner with Cabrini Mission Corps in New York, the Philippines, Swaziland, and Radnor, PA at Cabrini University. She recently graduated with a masters in pastoral ministries with an emphasis in restorative justice and chaplaincy at Santa Clara University.