Associates Fred and Cindy Bardenheier Reflect on Spiritual Journey

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet | CSJ Associates Fred and Cindy Bardenheier Reflect

Associates Fred and Cindy Bardenheier


By Associate Cindy Bardeneheir
In April 2012 we embarked on a new spiritual path. What started as a road less traveled quickly became a network of hope and love for each of the companions on this special journey.

pattyprewittIt started with a call to action from our Social Justice Office. At Easter, we stood with the sisters, associates and other religious leaders in petitioning Governor Jay Nixon to grant clemency for Patty Prewitt. Patty is a 63-year- old mother and grandmother unjustly convicted of murdering her husband in 1984. She is currently serving her 26th year of a life sentence at the Missouri Women’s Correctional Center in Vandalia with no hope of parole until 50 years of her sentence have been served. While signing this petition was a small step in the right direction, we knew that we wanted to do much more.

Two weeks later, a request came from the Social Justice Office for any interested sisters or associates to correspond with Patty. This idea immediately sparked our interest and spirit. We responded to the call and began to build our own spiritual network of support for Patty through written word and prayer. The first letter was the hardest to write since we knew very little about her and her interests. To our amazement, however, subsequent letters were easier to create and grew in length as our journey with Patty continued.

Letters from Patty are like a visit from a dear friend—heartwarming, delightful and filled with her funny stories and poetry. Her faith keeps her focused while family and friends keep her strong. Patty is very involved with the Women’s Theater Group at the prison, which is affiliated with Prison Performing Arts (PPA), a literacy and performing arts program that serves incarcerated adults and children in Missouri. Participants of the performing arts program are eligible to earn college credit for their work through Fontbonne University. In July, Patty invited us to attend a performance of Metamorphoses. We made all the necessary arrangements with PPA and journeyed to Vandalia to meet our new friend. Patty has an incredible spirit about her when she’s on stage. We were able to share many warm hugs with her during our visit and had the opportunity to meet her daughter, grandson and the young lawyer from Georgetown University who leads the Catholic community campaign for Patty’s clemency petition. What a day it was! We were spiritually pumped and very happy we made the journey.

Our spiritual connection with Patty continues to grow in hope, love and prayerful support. Her friendship is a precious gift and our journey together is paved with special blessings.

It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving. —Mother Teresa

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