Knights, dames, and members of auxiliary from the Washington DC and Montgomery County regions hosted a celebration of Thanksgiving for those involved in Gatekeepers, a program based in Hagerstown, Maryland that assists ex-offenders with their reentry into society.
A special meeting of their weekly resource group in November featured program volunteers, Mike McGarry, KM, vice chair of the North American Prison Ministry Apostolate board and a Gatekeepers board member, the Hagerstown mayor, and other local officials as well as several former inmates involved in the reentry program.
The meeting was followed by lunch served by Malta members to more than 60 people in attendance. Bill Gaertner, the founder and executive director of Gatekeepers, commented that the event “provided so many to understand the goodness from a world they never knew existed." Another attendee shared his thought that this was an “opportunity to rejoice and recommit to our collective mission of lifting up our formerly incarcerated brothers and sisters, and in so doing improving the quality of justice for all."
One ex-offender working the Gatekeepers program spoke from her heart, “I never judge anyone anyway as long as they want to mend their ways in one way, shape or form. Today was pivotal to me, it was inspirational, it was motivational and it was empowering.”
Generous grants from the Federal Association enabled Gatekeepers to share their program with a wider audience through a workbook and a soon-to-be-released course available through Catholic Distance University using tablets in prisons.