KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Christmas can be a difficult time for inmates incarcerated at the Wyandotte County Jail here, especially now because of lock-down conditions due to the COVID-19 virus and variants.
This year, however, they had an unexpected visitor who offered prayer and words of hope.
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the former ordinary of the Archdiocese of Lyon in France, visited the inmates on Dec. 26, the feast of the Holy Family.
The cardinal was in Kansas at the invitation of the Little Sisters of the Lamb, who have a convent in Kansas City, Kansas. The Community of the Lamb, as they are also known, is a French-based religious order. The stop at the jail was one among several in the archdiocese.
“In each of the six pods we visited, we began by singing a Christmas carol accompanied by a flute, and then Cardinal Barbarin briefly spoke to them in perfect Spanish, translated into English,” said Little Sister Marie-Jeanne, one of the Community of the Lamb members who accompanied him.
“Good afternoon, everyone,” the cardinal said. “My name is Philippe Barbarin. I am a French cardinal and I come to bring you the joy of Christmas. On this Sunday of the Holy Family, the Lord wants to bless your families, your children.
He explained to the inmates who the pope was, and that he was there as the pope’s representative.
“Today, it is he who greets you,” said the cardinal. “I will go to every cell window and bless you. It is Pope Francis himself who blesses you.”
The cardinal blessed each inmate with the sign of the cross, allowed them to venerate his pectoral cross through a window and spoke with them. He told them Jesus would forgive their sins if their hearts were open to it.
As the cardinal departed the pods, the inmates expressed their appreciation by banging on their cell doors and yelling “Thank you! Thank you!”
Information for this story was provided by Little Sister Marie- Jeanne.