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Restorative Justice

Photo of Sister Kathleen Eggering

Sister Kathleen Eggering has been a chaplain at Cyndi Taylor Krier Juvenile Correctional Treatment Center since 2004. She served the residents at chapel services, Bible studies, other activities, along with visiting and encouraging them. She also started an Epiphany Team, which was made up of 30 to 50 volunteers from many denominations. They would prepare for two Epiphany weekends a year. Included in the preparation for the weekends was to get prayers from around the world and then make prayer chains from all the prayers. The team's purpose was to bring God's love to the residents. Both team members and residents benefited every weekend. The team also brings Christmas presents to the residents and their parents each year.

When COVID-19 hit, things changed. Sister Kathleen held the chapel services through Zoom and sent them a weekly letter. All other services stopped. Sister Kathleen has been back at Krier since June 2021, but the Epiphany Team still is not allowed into the facility.

Sister Kathleen Eggering works in correctional facilities. This photo is of Sister Kathleen in a classroom.

Sister Kathleen made her first profession as a School Sister of Notre Dame (SSND) on August 3, 1956. Her introduction to SSND began long before that, "For 12 years, I was educated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame," said Sister Kathleen. "My first-grade teacher taught me how to crochet and embroider. My fourth-grade teacher taught me how to play a recorder. In the middle and upper grades, I helped the sisters in the sacristy and helped cover books at the beginning of the school year. I also helped them clean and do other little jobs. When my older sister entered the Candidature, we went to visit her each month. I really enjoyed those visits because I would also visit some of her classmates and play Ping Pong. We had a lot of fun together on visiting Sundays.”

Sister Kathleen Eggering works in correctional facilities. This image is her teaching three young men.

“As a youngster I babysat for other families.” said Sister Kathleen. “One special family adopted a 6-month-old Thalidomide baby. He was a precious and beautiful child, and I learned a lot about being with and treating handicapped children. I believe that babysitting fostered my love for working with children.”

Sister Kathleen also recalled, “Going to morning Mass and Perpetual Help Services with my dad helped in my spiritual journey. As a junior in high school when I was thinking about my future, I believed God wanted me to work with His children. So, when I looked at becoming a sister, there was no doubt as to which order I would join. Of course, School Sisters of Notre Dame. My years as an SSND has brought many graces and much love.”

Recently, Sister Kathleen was asked to share her prison ministry story through the Communicators for Women Religious podcast Exploring Intersections: Catholic Sisters on Racism, Migration and Climate.

Sister Kathleen and other panelists discussed restorative justice. Restorative justice seeks to balance the judicial scales with an organized approach and open dialogue between the victim and the criminal to achieve resolution between the two and create harmony within the community. Often, victims of crime find forgiveness too raw to reach; the sense of injustice outweighs the act of turning one's cheek. For the perpetrator, the sense of injustice is equally strong; living in a world beyond one's control, where societal standards hold no applicable meaning.

"When I was working as a counselor in the schools, I was not aware of the term restorative justice," said Sister Kathleen. “I might have been doing it when I worked with the students who had school and family problems but was unaware of the term. It has only been in the last few years that I became aware of Restorative Justice. Recently, I began reading and studying a lot about the topic because of the SSND focus on it. I am also considering working with restorative justice activities soon."

"Restorative justice seeks justice for all involved through respect, relationships, responsibility, repair and integration," said Sister Kathleen. "The purpose is to avoid punishment and try to understand, accept and work together and this can sometimes be done with facilitation." Sister Kathleen said she hopes those who listen to the post-live-event podcast, "will begin to see things differently. In Restorative Justice it is important for people to see all humans as basically good, but they come from different environments."

Sister Kathleen's interest in prison ministry began while serving as a high school counselor. She recalled, "I was at a second chance high school and one of my students wound up in jail. I wanted to visit him so I asked Sister Theresa, the person in charge of chaplains in the adult jail, if I could bring him Communion. She asked me if I wanted to volunteer at the jail. I said yes and started visiting the inmates weekly. Unfortunately, I never had a visit with that student. I continued volunteering for several years until my dad got sick. Twelve years later, after a sabbatical, I was looking for a new ministry. Since I love working with young people, I inquired about any openings in the juvenile system. There were no current positions available, so I asked if I could volunteer there. While completing the paperwork, Sister Theresa called and said one of the chaplains was moving to Dallas. Before she could even ask, I excitedly said 'yes'! I began my ministry at Cyndi Taylor Krier Juvenile Correctional Treatment Center on September 4, 2004. Thank you, Jesus!”


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