August 26, 2022

Corrections Corner / Fr. Jeremy King, O.S.B.

Respect, dignity were cornerstones of Marc Kellams’ ministry

Fr. Jeremy King, O.S.B.The Book of Judges in the Old Testament is alarmingly relevant to today. It records the Israelites’ descent into sin and its terrible consequences. The 12 heroes of the book, both male and female, seem larger than life at times. But they were imperfect, just like us. The book is a stern reminder that God punishes sin but is always ready to take the repentant back into his heart.

I truly believe that Marc Kellams lived his life with that sense of compassion in his roles as a judge in criminal cases and as a deacon for the archdiocese. He was a living testament to the principle that there is genuine goodness in every human being and that if an offender/sinner could be convinced of his/her own goodness, each one could re-take his/her place in the community. God’s grace of repentance is available to all.

My heart and soul were touched in a powerful way by him from the first day I met him to his death on July 29 at the age of 73. This honorable man was first of all a Christian gentleman. He was a loving husband and father. He was a dedicated servant of God’s people as a Catholic Deacon to the flock of Christ. All these qualities worked together in his service to all of us as the coordinator of Corrections Ministry for the archdiocese.

Of course, his experience as a judge was invaluable as he guided the ministry of those of us who serve our sisters and brothers who are currently or formerly incarcerated and their families.

It was my privilege to learn how deeply he was respected by his fellow deacons, attorneys and judges throughout the area. Among his peers, he was: “The Honorable Judge Marc Kellams,” “Deacon Marc Kellams” and “Professor Marc Kellams.” But, to all of us, he was Marc.

Marc was a man who knew loss in his life, especially when his daughter died. Even with his great faith, he struggled with his loss. He used that struggle to help others.

There was no situation he encountered, be it on the bench, in the pulpit or in the classroom that he did not bring along with him that passion of life and willingness to be of service to others. I am assured by those who know that even the family members of the defendants that he sentenced to prison often appreciated the respect and dignity with which he conducted himself, and which he gave to others.

I had the privilege of sharing some very deep and personal experiences with Marc that proved to me he was one of the most honorable, loving and compassionate men I have ever met.

I know he wanted the best for every individual and all the people he encountered in the courtroom. He and I talked many times about our work with the Corrections Ministry and how he wasn’t sure he was the right person for the position. I assured him that all of us who worked with him greatly appreciated all he was doing. We trusted him, and we knew Archbishop Charles C. Thompson had chosen the right man to lead our ministry.

He served well, right up until the time he faced the Judge of All. Amen!

(Benedictine Father Jeremy King is a member of the archdiocese’s Corrections Advisory Committee and is a frequent visiting chaplain in the Indiana Department of Correction.) †

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