Conversational Narratives at Quixote House: How Released Offenders and Religious Members Build Community and Find a New Identity in Winnipeg
One of the most worrisome situations in current societies is the failure of their correctional system. Even though jails and imprisonment institutions, at least in developed countries, do not have the shameful conditions which characterized them in the past, the high rate of recidivism shows that the correctional function that morally justifies their existence, with its big budget, has not been successful. Individuals that enter into the correctional system barely escape from it during life. However, there is a house in Winnipeg that is making a difference. This essay is about this house, Quixote House, named after Don Miguel de Cervantes’ novel hero, and my engagement to build community in it through conversational narratives. Also this essay shows how conversational narrative plays a role in healing trauma and building a community through which released offenders can find a new identity. For this purpose, it is necessary to set first a theoretical context, addressing the situation of recidivism and parole releases and the efforts to reinsert former offenders into society, which entail many challenges such as clean and affordable housing. Then, there is an explanation of how storytelling addressing trauma and community building, the importance of emotions in this kind of narrative, and the possibility of storytelling in ordinary life, especially in finding personal identity. Following Lonergan’s approach, there is a description about Quixote House and my engagement as priest but also as a another member of the community in which parolees can find a new identity.
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