Sister Carolyn Offers Hope, Hospitality and Healing

Paul Elen, Dashaun Hammoc, MariJo Gabriel and Sister Carolyn Hoying spent time with those attending the recent Minster Mission Commission Soup & Bread Luncheon.
Bob Blindauer
Staff Writer

Minster’s Mission Commission recently held its annual Soup & Bread Luncheon at the Knights of Columbus Hall. Besides its usual feast of homemade breads and soups, it imported guest speaker Sister Carolyn Hoying, C.PP.S. from Chicago. Actually, Sr. Carolyn is originally from nearby Egypt, but she has spent the last six years as part of a Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in the Back of the Yards/New City neighborhood on the southside of Chicago. Not far from the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center and Cook County Jail, the PBMR is a community restorative justice hub (RJ Hub) which fosters a community-led restorative justice approach to address youth crime and conflict. Its aim is reconciliation and healing. To accomplish that, it provides safe spaces where youth and their families are welcomed and supported in building healthy relationships, expressing themselves, addressing  traumas, and developing necessary skills and competencies.

It was established in 2002 to reach out to a community effected by poverty, gangs, violence and racial division. Inspired by the spirituality of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. They say, “We are motivated by the belief that ‘those who are far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.’” (Eph. 2:13) Sharing in Christ’s mission of reconciliation,  “we work with those who have beeen impacted by violence and conflict. Their ministry seeks to reach out to wrongdoers as well as victims to create safe space where support and encouragement can help begin the process of reconciliation.

“On my first week here, we went to the Detention Center, and week to week we would go to build relationships with so many boys there and we would invite them to come to our center. where the programs would be free,” says Sr. Hoying. Sister also mentioned the food pantry they also operated which had become important to community residents.

Restoring human dignity through the 3Hs – Hospitality, Hope and Healing – is their stated mission.

The doors are kept wide open to young people there who are disconnected from the community – their schools, churches and families. The RJ Hub offers to walk alongside each individual, mentoring dozens, 14 to 24, participating in programs and finding safe haven. A mother’s group provides a support circle of assistance, court accompaniment and confidence for mothers of victims and incarcerated children. The RJ Café brings together youth, parents, ministers, police officers weekly for hospitality and conversation that remove obstacles for a healthy community.

Four programs are designed to create hope, purpose and meaning: Education programs that are hands-on to let youth work together to build their reading and comprehension skills; workforce development with the help of trades and skilled laborers, opening career possibilities to youth with hands-on experiences; teaching cooking and nutrition for preparation to enter into the food service industry; and urban gardening and beekeeping to foster cultivation of vegetables, plants and honey as healthy and a sustainable community resource.

Through the help of the apprentice labor, they’re now working to rehab a former drug house. Two of the young men innvolved in the center’s woodworking workshop, were on hand with Sr. Carolyn, Paul Elen and Dashaun Hammoc, who were really enjoying being in the program. Dashaun states,  “I could really see myself continuing on” in that enterprose and making it an enterprise.

PBMR also recognizes that “hurt people hurt people” and seeks to promote healing through programs such as its Peacemaking Circles which offer people ways to have productive conversations to work through conflict and differences safely, a Peace Garden which is a “sacred space for the community to gather,” and mental health and substance abuse support.

The Precious Blood Center also provides an art studio and gallery for its youth to create, exhibit and sell its art. It also has a digital media lab, woodworking, poetry and spoken word programs.