Kolbe Prison Ministry comes to recovery center

More than 50 men recently took part in the Kolbe Prison Ministry inaugural retreat at the Applewhite Recovery Center in San Antonio, according to Deacon Bob Leibrecht. Photo Provided

Twenty-two members of the Kolbe Prison Ministry presented the inaugural retreat at the Applewhite Recovery Center in San Antonio the weekend of July 27-29.
The Applewhite Recovery Center (ARC) is a secure facility run by the Bexar County Community Supervision and Corrections Department where men and women on probation are sent by court order for addiction recovery and rehabilitation through programs typically lasting about 90-180 days.
On the first morning of the retreat, 50 men on probation, ages 18 to 50, entered the room being greeted to music, smiles, and the open arms of the team. The probationers (retreatants) were apprehensive at first, but their hearts began to melt being embraced by Kolbe team members they didn’t even know.  Over the subsequent three days, several team members told life stories of poor choices, destructive consequences, and the healing power of Christ. The retreatants soon began to share their own stories of broken homes, gang violence, death, abuse, and drugs.
The team was asked why we came, and heard “because we love you”… and they began to believe it.  Many of the retreatants who were initially apprehensive about coming on the retreat expressed their gratitude for the brotherhood, bonding and healing they had received.  They experienced the renewing power of the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist, and, by the end of the third day, one of the retreatants would say “we miss you guys already.”
The men on team know that their presence and work is only a prelude to the presence of the Holy Spirit at the retreat.
As one Kolbe team member put it, “our job is to kick start the retreat and try to gently open the hearts and minds of the retreatants ‘just a crack’, and then get out of the way so that the Holy Spirit can do the truly life-giving work on the souls of the retreatants.”
And the Holy Spirit did not disappoint; He never does.  All in attendance felt the blessings being poured out. Souls scarred by much darkness are offered the light of Christ, seeds are planted, and battered lives are salved with love.
The staff at ARC have asked the ministry to come back so tentative plans are being formulated for a similar retreat with the women in the fall of 2017. The ultimate goal would be hold two retreats for men and two for women in 2018. To achieve this, the teams will need to recruit many men and women with ACTS experience to serve on these Kolbe efforts.
If interested in learning more about the Kolbe Prison Ministry and about serving in this special ministry, contact Deacon Bob Leibrecht, the archdiocesan director of Criminal Justice Ministry, at (210) 734-1980.

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