Saturday, October 19, 2019                

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.       

Cathedral Square Center                                 360 Division Ave. S.,                                     Grand Rapids, MI 49503                                       

*Free parking is available in the upper and lower levels of the parking ramp east of the building.

*Lunch is included free of charge.


Event Contact:                                                 Tricia Worrell                                                         





































Admission to the conference is free, but registration is required.   Registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 14.

"Radical Forgiveness" is the theme of the 3rd Annual West Michigan Restorative Justice Conference organized by inmates of Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia. Hosted by the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids' Prison and Jail Ministry, the 2019 conference will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cathedral Square Center in Grand Rapids.

The conference originated three years ago, when students of the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI) program at R. A. Handlon had the idea and the desire to reach out and create a space in which the public could learn about restorative justice practices. Each year, the students have partnered with a community organization who hosts the conference; Calvin University hosted in 2018 and the Saint Benedict Institute on the campus of Hope College hosted in 2017.

This year's conference keynote speaker is Kate Grosmaire, author of "Forgiving my Daughter's Killer: A True Story of Loss Faith and Unexpected Grace." Eric Boldiszar, Handlon inmate and Calvin Prison Initiative student, alongside other CPI students, will also address conference attendees through a pre-recorded presentation. Additional speakers and panelists include Nate Johnson of Fresh Coast Alliance; Officer Dan Myers of the Grand Rapids Police Department, and Angie Sprank of the Michigan Department of Corrections Offender Success program.

As addressed in previous conferences and emphasized by the CPI students at R. A. Handlon, restorative justice is a process that "seeks to encourage peace within communities by healing the wounds of injustice through effective communication and accountability and offering hope for restoration." Additionally, "restorative justice addresses the harm caused by crime while holding the offender responsible for their actions, by providing an opportunity for the parties directly affected by the crime - victims, offenders and communities - to identify and address their needs after the crime."

One of the primary goals of the conference is educating the community about restorative justice and encouraging the creation and implementation of restorative justice practices within the local criminal justice system. These practices include developing legislative policy that offers victims an opportunity to participate in restorative justice circles prior to the conviction of their assailant. Restorative justice circles encourage meaningful engagement and accountability and provide an opportunity for healing, reparation and reintegration.

Established over 40 years ago, the Diocese of Grand Rapids' Prison and Jail Ministry provides a Catholic presence to incarcerated men and women and those returning from incarceration within the diocese. The ministry includes more than 150 active priests, deacons and volunteers who bring messages of hope into 21 jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers around West Michigan. This mission of hope and accompaniment is accomplished through prayer, Catholic religious services including holy Communion, Bible study and the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

In addition to programs offered within the facilities, Prison and Jail Ministry helps connect formerly incarcerated individuals returning to society with a Catholic parish through, GROW (Guiding Returning Citizens to Our World). This newly-developed outreach ministry helps break the cycle of recidivism by educating parish communities on the spiritual needs of returned citizens and their families, and works to create welcoming faith communities by building awareness and relationships.