[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”1626982848″ locale=”US” src=”http://englewoodreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/41bEkqiECgL.jpg” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”216″]Bearing Witness Within The
Ineffective Prison System
A Review of
Refuge in Hell:
Finding God in Sing Sing
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2018.
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Reviewed by Mary VanderGoot
Ronald Lemmert was a Catholic chaplain at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York for sixteen years. Refuge in Hell is his memoir. It is the story of why he chose to be a prison chaplain, why he stayed as long as he did, and why he left abruptly.
Prisons are grim places. The environment is rigid and unforgiving, but it is also unpredictable and dangerous. By reputation Sing Sing is among the worst. The first time Father Lemmert celebrated mass only twelve men from a population of 2000 attended. The chapel was “dirty and dingy….paint of the chapel walls was peeling….a large asbestos ceiling tile had become unglued and was hanging down.” (30) Lemmert determined to revitalize the chapel space and make it a place of refuge and calm.