Visiting as Friends

(posted: October 1 2019)


Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority,
following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes
and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness
that the dignity of the person is not lost
even after the commission of very serious crimes.
In addition, a new understanding has emerged
of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.
Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed,
which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time,
do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that
"the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
Christ and the Good Thief, abt.1566, possibly by Tiziano Vecellio

Recently I read an article by Arthur Ross, from the archives of MACLEAN'S magazine, about the final hours of the last two men executed in Canada. Their names were Ronald Turpin and Arthur Lucas and they were hung at the Don Jail on December 11, 1962. You can find this disturbing but very interesting story at

A section that spoke to me in a particular way concerned their "friend, religious counselor, errand-runner, chess opponent and constant visitor" Brigadier Cyril Everitt of the Salvation Army. The writer referred to him: "He was possibly the first decent man Turpin or Lucas had ever known." Everitt dropped in every day; when he was on vacation he sent daily post cards. He prepared them for death by being their friend. Sometimes, when they wanted him to, he read the Bible and prayed. "But mostly they just talked – about the food, about sports, about the world outside, about what it means to die." Their friend relayed their final messages and was the last person they heard as they died. He delivered their committal service at the graveyard.

Thankfully we no longer have a death penalty in Canada and we join with Pope Francis and the Church to pray and work for its end everywhere.

Vincentians who minister to those who are incarcerated, homebound, hospitalized, or isolated in any way can learn more of the art of visiting from Brigadier Everitt and from Blessed Frederic. According to one of his biographers, when Blessed Frederic visited any home his customary greeting was. "I am your servant." "He never preached to them; after giving whatever he had to give he would sit and chat on any subject likely to cheer or interest them."

May God help us to visit those who need us as friends, so that they become Christ to us as we bring Him to them.

Spirituality Corner

Monthly Reflections
by Denise Bondy, Chair
ONRC Spirituality Committee