ANDERSON, S.C. — Each Monday evening, Aubrey McNeil, OFM, andThaddeus Sapio, OFM, pull a small, carry-on-size suitcase through the security doors of Anderson City Jail. In the suitcase is everything the friars, based at St. Mary of the Angels Church here, need for Mass — including a small Tupperware-like container holding the hosts for Communion.
The ministry is the first of its kind at the jail and began in September 2008, after Aubrey heard from a Hispanic parishioner he was visiting that a number of Hispanics were being held there. Anderson houses inmates for the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agency.
According to “Anderson jail opens doors for first Hispanic Catholic services,” an article published in the Independent Mail in July, 12 to 20 men attend the weekly service, though the attendees change.
Aubrey told the publication, “They have really grown, from singing to saying of the prayers, they have been strong in it. But there’s a real loss when we go” and the inmates have been transferred out.
“We may go Monday night and find six people have gone,” he said. “And we may have known those six for about three months.”