Maryknoll lay missioner Marilyn Kott recently shared a beautiful thank-you letter she had received from a man named Kingsley, who is incarcerated in the Itaí prison for foreigners in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.
When a priest and a sister from the São Paulo archdiocesan office for prison ministry visited the inmates at Itaí last October, they took a “prayer request” letter from the Maryknoll Sisters’ contemplative community in Ossining with them. The Maryknoll Sisters have long been praying for many intentions from around the world, including from prisoners in the São Paulo prisons.
“The incarcerated men and women are always astonished, and truly appreciate the fact that religious women in New York pray for them,” said Marilyn.
After she sent the requests to the Maryknoll Sisters in New York, Marilyn used the names of the prisoners on the prayer sheet to send them each a small Christmas packet at the beginning of December. The packet included an Advent reflection book in English, a Christmas card with words of encouragement, some artwork from two Maryknoll lay missioner children in São Paulo, and a few odds and ends like prayer cards and comic strips. She signed many of the cards “Mary Knoll.”
In his thank-you note to “dear beloved friend Mary Knoll,” Kingsley writes that he was “so astonished and overwhelmed to read your letter… It was like an angel visiting me” in his time of need. He thanked her for the packet, saying, “Now I know that God doesn’t sleep; he always hears the cry from a heartbroken poor man like me. I put my faith in him. And I know he will never let me down…. In my days of pain, I know God and his divine grace will intervene for me, and I pray that his love always be with you and your family forever more. Amen!”
Marilyn says, “I believe the thanks are for ‘Mary Knoll,’ and are best directed to the Maryknoll Lay Missioners donors who make this work possible.”