“You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.” (Mt 5)

West Michigan Restorative Justice Conference

Radical Mission: Inspiring collaborative action through restorative culture
Saturday, April 22 | 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Cathedral Square Center, 360 Division Ave. S., Grand Rapids
View: Conference Agenda

WATCH: A personal invitation from Jim Wahlberg

This event is a free event (lunch included) – registration is required. Registration deadline: April 14, 2023

Register Now

Salt flavors. It stabilizes and preserves. Light vanquishes darkness and brings warmth. Our Christian faith calls us to be salt and light here and now. But what does the willingness to be God’s instrument of love, peace, and forgiveness look like inside the walls of a prison? And how can each of us become messengers of Christ’s light both inside and beyond the barriers of those walls?

Join us for the West Michigan Restorative Justice Conference to learn about ways – personal and communal – to ignite change in our communities by creating a restorative culture in our broken society.

Be inspired for “Radical Mission” on April 22 at Cathedral Square Center. Conceived and organized by the men incarcerated at Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, and hosted by Prison & Jail Ministry – Diocese of Grand Rapids and the Calvin Prison Initiative, the conference will feature keynote presenter Jim Wahlberg, filmmaker and author of “The Big Hustle: A Boston Street Kid’s Story of Addiction and Redemption.”

Register today for free at: https://bit.ly/WMRJRegister  (lunch included).

Meet the Presenters:

Photo of James Wahlberg, writer, director and keynote speaker at the 2023 WM Restorative Justice Conference
Jim Wahlberg

Jim Wahlberg aims to serve God by writing, speaking, filmmaking and serving our community. James serves as the executive director of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, which was created to improve the quality of life for inner-city youth through a working partnership with other youth organizations. James Wahlberg is a producer, writer, and director of films, and uses his talents and experiences to raise awareness about opioid addiction and point to the hope found in Christ. He is the author of “The Big Hustle: A Boston Street Kid’s Story of Addiction and Redemption” and host of The Bottom Line Podcast. James has been married to his lovely wife Bennie for 30 years and they have three children.

Caitlin Morneau, Catholic Mobilizing Network
Caitlin Morneau, Director of Restorative Justice, Catholic Mobilizing Network

Photo of Honorable Joseph Rossi, Kent County 17th Circuit Court Judge
The Honorable Joseph Rossi, Kent County 17th Circuit Court Judge
Judge Rossi was elected in November of 2016 and began judicial service on Jan. 1, 2017. Joe serves in the Circuit Court’s Civil-Criminal division. He founded and currently presides over Kent County’s Treatment and Support Court, which focuses on keeping individuals struggling with serious mental illness “in treatment…and out of jail.” He serves as a Governor of the American Judges Association and on the Board of the Michigan Judges Association.

Joe attended the University of Notre Dame where he obtained a degree in English in 1988 and a Juris Doctorate in 1995. Between his undergraduate studies and law school, Joe served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, including combat service in Operation Desert Storm and as a Special Operations instructor. Joe continued to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve, where he was called to active duty in 2003 and 2007. His final tour was on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, where he worked under the Director of Global Special Operations and Counter-terrorism. Joe retired from military service in 2012 at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Joe has been married to Marie for 34 years and they have 10 children ranging in age from 30-3 yrs., and 2 grandchildren. He and his family attend St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Grand Rapids. Joe’s community service includes Vice President of Kent County Families Against Narcotics (FAN), Board member of Alternative Directions and member of the Fred Cochran Detachment of the Marine Corps League.

Angie Sprank, Coordinator for Michigan Department of Corrections Offender Success

Angie Sprank, Coordinator for Michigan Department of Corrections Offender Success
Angela is a 2000 graduate of Michigan State University, earning her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. In 2001, she was hired by the Ionia County Prosecutor’s Office as their first Crime Victim Right’s Coordinator. Angela built a strong and successful Crime Victim Right’s Program in Ionia County that is still serving victims today. She was a frequent speaker for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association and served as a mentor for new coordinators over her 11 years in this role. Angela also started a successful restitution collection program for the 8th Circuit Court that is still being used to date. In January 2012, she accepted the position as Coordinator for MDOC/MWWC Prisoner Reentry Program, a 9 county region. She is now Coordinator for the Region 4 MDOC/MWWC Offender Success Program (formally Prisoner Reentry), a 13 county region.

Angela is a frequent speaker at various entities and events across the state of Michigan that work with justice involved individuals. She is a member of the following: CLEAR Program, Michigan Restorative Justice Council, Pure Heart-Grand Rapids Committee, and FAN. She co-facilitates the Kent County Justice Involved Advisory Council and Steering Team Meetings for the Region 4 Offender Success Program (OSP).

Region 4 OSP has been the first to pilot many successful programs. In 2016, Angela was one of the key individuals in launching the Offender Success Truck Driving Program. A program specifically for formally incarcerated individuals. The program has a success rate of 96%, enrolling over 80 participants in Region 4. The Truck Driving Program is now available in all 83 counties with over 325 individuals successfully completing the program. In 2020 Region 4 was the first to offer Trauma Informed Counseling to those returning to society from prison, it is now offered in all 13 counties. In 2021 Angela, started a Welding Program that mirrors the highly successful Truck Driving Program. In 2022 Region 4 OSP created and launched the position of Medical Resource Navigator. This position is held by a Registered Nurse who assists justice involved individuals with various medical and/or mental health needs along with substance use.

Photo of Nate Johnson, Fresh Coast Alliance
Nate Johnson, Advocacy & Engagement Strategist, Fresh Coast Alliance
In prison Nate Johnson had an encounter with Jesus that changed his life forever. He spent the first 10 years of his new life in Christ behind bars, writing inspirational newsletters to other incarcerated men. Upon being released Nate continued inspiring men by co-founding Fresh Coast Alliance, a ministry that serves the reentry and recovery community in Muskegon, Mich. Nate also helped launch Kingdom Life Church where he serves on the Senior Leadership Team. Fresh Coast and Kingdom Life collaborate to meet both felt and spiritual needs. The two ministries have created Church Planting with a Carrot (or, 501c3). Nate has been home since 2013 and is married to his beautiful wife Sara, they have three children, and his record was recently expunged.

Conference Background:

The West Michigan restorative justice conferences originated with the men at Richard A. Handlon (MTU) prison in Ionia in 2017. While writing a paper on restorative justice for the Calvin Prison Initiative, Eric Boldiszar who also attends Catholic services at MTU through the Diocese of Grand Rapids Prison and Jail Ministry, and other inmates, had the desire to create a platform to educate our community on restorative justice. The first conference, Radical Hospitality, was hosted by the Saint Benedict Institute on the campus of Hope College. The second conference, Hope, Healing, and Radical Reconciliation, was held at Calvin University in 2018 and the Diocese of Grand Rapids hosted and sponsored the third conference, Radical Forgiveness, in 2019. The Michigan Restorative Justice Council (MRJC) was formed and the Restorative Justice Practice Enabling Act was created as an initiative of the third conference.

Read more: Calvin Prison Initiative students lead restorative justice conference (Calvin University, November 2018)