A Reader’s Guide to Harm, Healing, and Human Dignity

Chapter 1

Redemption & Restoration on Liturgical Press

In 2017, Catholic Mobilizing Network, Mount St. Mary’s University, and Liturgical Press published Redemption and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Restorative Justice. The book offers an in-depth examination of our broken criminal justice system, Catholic theology, and applications of restorative justice. This companion book offers a glimpse of what you will find in Redemption and Restoration. 

If you are intrigued by what you read, and wish to delve deeper, order a copy of Redemption and Restoration here.

Precious Blood Center’s Peacemaking Circle 

Fr. David Kelly is executive director of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR), a restorative justice ministry in Chicago’s South Side. In this video, he explains more about peacemaking circles and how they make a difference in the lives of youth that PBMR serves. 


Chapter 2

A Catholic Family’s Journey

In 2010, Kate and Deacon Andy Grosmaire learned that their daughter Ann had been shot by her fiancé, Conor. Moved by their Catholic faith to forgive Conor, and dissatisfied by the criminal justice process, the Grosmaires, along with Conor’s parents, Michael and Julie McBride, fought to address the crime in a way that allowed their voices to be heard.

At an event on November 5, 2018, Kate and Deacon Andy told their personal story of restorative justice. Watch their talk here:

Restorative Justice Handout

CMN’s one-page handout gives an introductory overview of restorative justice and ways its practices can be applied in various settings. Download and print copies to complete an educational workshop or spread the word about restorative justice with others in your community.

Click here to view and download. 

Restorative Justice Ministry: San Francisco

In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Julio Escobar leads “A Ministry of Presence,” which allows those who have lost loved ones to homicide support one another on their healing journey. Together they memorialize the locations where their loved ones died and are present with others who have similar experiences of loss and grief. When family members feel ready, they visit with individuals in juvenile hall to share their stories.

These encounters offer an opportunity for those responsible for crimes to think differently about the harms they committed and consider the impacts of their actions. They also allow victims to share the stories of their loved ones in ways that may prevent future violence. Watch the video here:



Chapter 3

Prayer Vigil for an Execution

A recent revision to the Catholic Catechism made on August 2, 2018 states:

“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.”

Church teachings makes clear that even when incarceration is needed for community safety, it should not be without the opportunity for transformation and hope. This vigil invites us to prayerful witness in honoring the lives and dignity of those facing imminent execution and all those who are incarcerated. Download the prayer vigil here.

Bridges to Life: Restorative Justice Program

Bridges to Life, an in-prison restorative justice program based in Texas, combines restorative dialogue between incarcerated individuals and victims of similar crimes with life-skills training and spiritual support to inspire change that brings healing and reduces recidivism. 

Watch a video about how it works:


A Native American Tribe Is Using Traditional Culture to Fight Addiction

Some people turn to drug use because they feel disconnected from their family, community, or culture. A community in Maine is using restorative circles to rebuild relationships and reclaim cultural identity in ways that are fighting the opioid epidemic. 

Watch the video here:


Chapter 4

Pathways to Restoration Webpage

Catholic Mobilizing Network’s Pathways to Restoration webpage offers stories to spark imagination, resources for learning and discerning next steps, and tools for action and change. Included are examples of ways that restorative circles and dialogue are used in various communities.

This dynamic online toolkit offers individuals and communities an easy place to start in the journey to becoming agents of restoration. Access here.

TED Talk: We Need to Talk about an Injustice

In 2018, Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, opened the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama to commemorate the lives of those enslaved and lynched in America.

These memorials compel us to encounter and come to terms with the injuries of our country’s past, to understand their impacts in the present day, and to consider how we can play a role in building a better future.

In this video, Bryan Stevenson goes into more depth about the relationship between race, the criminal justice system, and beyond. Watch the talk here:



Chapter 5 

Find a Circle Trainer

For many Catholics, after learning about the principles and practices of restorative justice, they wish to become trained in circle keeping. CMN’s dedicated webpage offers discerning questions and suggested organizations experienced in conducting circle trainings with faith communities. To find a circle trainer, click here.

CMN’s Small Group Modules

Catholic Mobilizing Network developed Restorative Justice, Restorative Living for small groups to learn about restorative justice, consider its connections to our Catholic faith, and discern ways to put restorative practices into action.

Learn more about hosting the modules here.