Incarcerated but Free

July 12th, 2010

Last Friday, Victor Rosario became one of the first Massachusetts inmates to be ordained as a minister while incarcerated.

Rosario is serving a life sentence for arson in connection to a 1982 Lowell fire that killed 8 people. Rosario was present at the scene of the fire and heard cries for help coming from the burning building. He was 24 years old at the time and had abused alcohol for most of his life.

Just hours after the horrible fire, Rosario sought the help of a local minister. “When he was praying for me, I went down to the ground, and I felt this kind of peace in myself,’’ Rosario said in an April prison interview. “Like a Christian person, … you’re reborn, I felt that peace in me and I went back with the Bible thinking Sunday I would be in church.’’

Rosario, however, was in jail by Sunday and has remained behind bars ever since. During his incarceration, Rosario has run marathons, mentored fellow prisoners, and married. While still physically incarcerated, Rosario says he is mentally free from drugs and alcohol. Rosario writes, “I believe that God has called me to prison ministry. I also believe that one day I will be a free man and able to minister both inside and outside these walls that currently confine me.’’

Two weeks ago, a Boston Globe article highlighted numerous shortcomings in the investigation that raise serious questions about the validity of Rosario’s conviction. Rosario’s legal team is expected to file a motion for a new trial later this summer.