After much discernment in prayer, Josephite Sister Liz Koziol RSJ recalled being overcome by a sense of peace as she accepted another calling, this time to lead the Archdiocesan Prison Ministry as its Coordinator.
Since assuming this role on 26 October 2020, a typical day in the life of Sr Liz includes attending regular meetings of Catholic leadership and prison leadership, identifying prospective new chaplains, arranging meetings with the current team within the prison where she is currently based, as well as the wider Catholic chaplaincy community in the Perth area.
Other administration requirements include organising an annual retreat, coordinating six to eight weekly meetings with regional and remote chaplains for them to meet and chat with each other and share experiences, with the use of modern technology.
However busy her schedule may seem; Sr Liz admits she is right where she is meant to be. By the grace of God, she prays that prison ministry will, in the long run, work “gently and compassionately to transform lives and help those who find themselves on the ‘inside’ to make better choices”.
“In my Novitiate days, I was able to visit Parklea Correctional Centre in Sydney. This was a transforming experience, as while I believed in the equality of humanity, I was challenged to acknowledge this at the time,” Sr Liz said in an exclusive interview with The eRecord.
“It was in listening to the stories of the men that I could see parallels in our life stories. What keeps me going is the belief that all human beings no matter who they are, can walk the paths of these residents.
“In visiting these poor and broken ‘fringe dwellers’ of society I find myself seeing Jesus as he began his journey to the cross,” she added.
Each resident, Sr Liz described, is on their Easter journey, with chaplains being the ‘Simon and Veronica’ to the residents.
“By this I mean we help carry the cross for these people as they journey towards their judgement day,” she cited.
“We help to wipe the tears and to calm their fears. Once they are sentenced, it’s like the resurrection for them as they know their fate and can begin focussing on a new life of better choices.”
Emulating the charism of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop who is ever-present in her ministry, Sr Liz added that her mission for Prison Ministry is to live out of the humility in acting justly, loving tenderly [compassionately] and walking humbly with God, as Saint MacKillop did.
“I feel called to live out [Mary MacKillop’s] humility in acting justly, loving tenderly and walking humbly knowing that her compassion for the underprivileged is ever present.
“I pray to leave ‘me’ at home so I can be available to staff and residents as they require with a pair of ears to listen and a heart that brings a face of God to those I meet,” Sr Liz continued.
“To acknowledge that I too am meeting a face of God in need. For me, it’s important I am authentic in my ministry and that my actions match my words.
“There but for the grace of God go I, and there with the grace of God I go,” she concluded.