Dedication of Angela House

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 Angela House
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On Sunday, Jan. 26, residents and staff welcomed friends, volunteers and former residents to the dedication of Angela House at its new location. The mission of Angela House is “to successfully transition women into society after incarceration.” Angela House serves women released from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prison and state jail system, and county jails who come to the program voluntarily.

Residents conducted tours of the renovated former Carmelite Priory. Pride and sense of ownership was seen in each woman who arranged and decorated her private bedroom. It was estimated that nearly 400 hundred people responded to celebrate the dedication of the new residence.

Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, executive director and founder of Angela House, cut the ribbon as Houston Mayor Annise Parker and His Eminence Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, looked on. In her remarks, Parker praised the work of the staff and volunteers who provide a place for women coming out of prison who are committed to making changes in their lives.

Following the mayor’s remarks, four women gave testimony to the benefits they have received from engaging in the programs that Angela House provides. Centering prayer, creative arts and individual counseling were mentioned as some aspects of the program that helped them gain self-respect and confidence to accomplish the changes they are making in their lives. While the women may have incarceration in common, it was evident from each one’s testimony that her individual needs were considered as she engaged the process. Cardinal DiNardo remarked that after listening to these women, there was no need for him to give a homily. He commented that though there were obstacles along the way, through the persistence of Sister Maureen, the new Angela House became a reality.

Angela House was founded in 2001 as a transitional, residential facility for women upon their immediate release from incarceration. The program was identified as a “Special Work” of the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP), Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston at the behest of Bishop Joseph Fiorenza. In July 2006, Angela House became an independent non-diocesan owned, non-profit, 501c3 entity. Located in north Houston, Texas, Angela House consisted of three aging duplex buildings and could serve 10-12 women with minimal space for programming. The new residence has individual bedrooms, a commercial size kitchen and large dining room, large community room, space for the various programs and can house up to 16 women.

(6 February 2014)