Just Mercy Reading & Discussion

Just Mercy Book Reading & Discussion

We are inviting everyone to join us for our first ever Summer Book Club offering: JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson. “Bryan Stevenson was a gifted young attorney when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man sentenced to die for a notorious murder he didn’t commit. The case drew Stevenson into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.”

Please consider joining us. Grab a copy of the book (e book, hard copy or audio book)! Join the Facebook group by clicking here.

See below for the reading breakdown. Discussion questions will be updated each week.

Week of July 19 Reading: Intro, 1 & 2

  1. As you read the book, which details of Walter McMillan’s case are the most difficult for you to accept? Is it difficult to believe that this could really happen? Why?  
  2. What is your reaction to the fact that Walter’s case took place in Monroeville? How could the very residents who romanticized Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird stand for (or, worse, contribute to) Walter’s trials? 
  3. Critics of social justice initiatives complain that too many excuses are being made for those who have done wrong. What relevance might this opening line from The Great Gatsby have in the debate over this issue: “whenever you feel like criticizing anyone… just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”? 

Week of July 26 Reading: Chapters 3-5

  1. Was Ralph Myers a reliable witness? Why were the authorities so willing to accept his changing testimony? How did the justice system use Ralph Myers, Bill Hooks, and Darnell Houston to convict Walter McMillian and keep him on death row? How do you feel about this?
  2. Walter McMillian was both poor and black. Do you think his story would have played out differently if he had been poor and white?
  3. In Chapter 4 we learn about Herbert Richardson’s case. He was given the death penalty for creating a bomb that kills a young girl. Alabama’s capital punishment statute requires that murder be intentional in order for a defendant to be eligible for the death  penalty. Why is this relevant in Richardson’s case?
  4. Herbert Richardson remarks on the frequent offers of help from the prison staff during his final day. What do you make of these offers?

Week of August 2 Reading: Chapters 6-8

  1. Stevenson structures his book with alternating chapters of Walter’s case and details of other cases. Why do you think he does this?
  2. In Chapter 7 the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Stevenson’s appeal. How did that make you feel? At the end of the chapter, Stevenson and his team have discovered a significant amount of new evidence. Do you feel any more hopeful that Walter will be released?
  3. What evidence did criminologists have in 1991 to support their “super-predator” theory? What do we know about the validity of these predictions?
  4. In what ways has the judicial system failed to protect Charlie (chapter 6), Trina, Ian, and Antonio (chapter 8)?

Week of August 9 Reading: Chapters 9-11

  1. In Chapter 8 Bryan talks about children and the prison system. In Chapter 10 he talks about the relationship between mental illness and the current prison population. How does lack of medical care for people with mental illness or with addiction issues relate to systemic problems in our justice system and abuse in our prisons?
  2. The story of the guard in Chapter 10 was especially poignant. How did Bryan’s point about “mitigation” change his life? How did the guard experience conversion? If the prison guard’s heart could change, what does that say about the people who are in prison?
  3. In Chapter 11, Bryan expressed concern that national press coverage of Walter’s case might be detrimental. Why? What were some of the things that the local press had falsely said about Walter? Why did they do that? How does injustice like this traumatize the entire black community in the area? What role does “hope” play in situations like this?

Week of August 16 Reading: Chapters 12-14

  1. In Chapter 12 we learn the story of Marsha Colbey. How did the justice system fail her? In what ways are female inmates more at risk than male?
  2. In Chapter 13 we get a look at Walter’s life after being released from death row. How does he continue to be “punished” even though he was completely innocent of any wrong doing?
  3. Chapter 14 tells the story of a 13 year old boy named Joe Sullivan. There are so many sad and unjust parts to this story. Are adolescents always capable of behaving rationally? Why or why not? What does this have to do with the sentencing of juveniles? After reading this and some of the other chapters in the book, how do you feel about “life in prison without parole” sentences for kids 13-17 years of age?

Week of August 23 Reading: Chapters 13-Epilogue

These questions are from 2016 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission. 

Afternoon Bible Break

Afternoon Bible Break

A bi-weekly bible study to refresh your spirit

Are you tired of COVID life?  Looking to get out of the house in a safe manner? Come join us outside this fall to study Psalms II: Praying with JesusPraying the Psalms takes on new meaning when we pray the psalms that Jesus himself prayed. This study takes a look at six psalms that played an important role in Jesus’ life and helps us apply those words to our lives and prayers today.

Due to the COVID restrictions, we will meet weekly, socially distanced, under the large tree behind the rectory, with alternative sheltered plans should the forecast call for rain. When the weather turns cold, we will finish any remaining sessions via ZOOM.

Meeting dates:

Wednesdays, Sept. 9, 16, 23, 30, Oct. 7 and 14, 12:30 – 2:00 pm


If you have questions, please call Carmen Gray 832-4164. To register and purchase a book ($9), please call the Faith Formation Office or email lynp@blessed-midland.org.



Art Reflection

Art Reflections provides an opportunity to see and discuss the visual arts, to recognize the sacred in the secular. We begin with Visio Divina followed by some casual, some prepared discussions of Art in our lives. Meets the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 6:00-7:30pm in the Lounge.

The imagination works through suggestion, not description. Description is always direct and frequently closes off what it names. Suggestion respects the mystery and richness of a thing. All it offers are clues to its nature. Suggestion keeps the mystery open and extends us the courtesy of inviting us to see the thing for ourselves. It offers us the hospitality and freedom to trust the integrity of our own encounter with a thing. This is how a work of art can allow itself to be seen in so many different and often conflicting ways. It does not foreclose on the adventure of revelation. —John O’Donohue

Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler offers a wonderful invitation into visio divina (or sacred seeing). I invite you to try this image for a meditation experience, as a window into your own soul and the Divine.

Social Justice Team

Come and join the Social Justice Team to help promote change. Monthly, first Thursday, 4:00p – 5:00p. Committed to the awareness and action of Catholic Social Teaching For more information, please call the parish office at 835.6777.

Midland Area Inter-Faith Friends

The Midland Area Inter-Faith Friends are inspired to affect positive change through Unity, Support, Compassion and Willingness to make a difference in this world as we face so many issues and problems.

Midland Area Inter-Faith Friends is also currently  a part of a non-profit organization “Foster Closets of Michigan”.

Come and join us and be a part of making a difference in our local community.

Please contact Deb Ballard. 

The Journey

Welcome to The Journey!

For six weeks, beginning February 25, we will spend time discussing how Jesus teaches us about love, justice, faithfulness, conversion, mission, and discipleship. Everyone is welcome to participate even if you haven’t completed parts 1 and 2. Sessions will be offered at 1:00 and 7:00 on Tuesdays or consider using the program with your current small group or gathering a group of friends together to share this journey together. Register at blessed-midland.org or contact Lyn at lynp@blessed-midland.org with any questions.

Cost is $10.00.

Click here to pay online (scroll down to adult faith formation) or pay using the Give+ Mobile App! 

Theology by the Glass

  • Beginning September 11: Father Roband Lyn Pajk will be hosting “Theology by the Glass” on the second Wednesday of each month at Grape Beginnings Winery on Main Street from 7:30 until 9:00.
  • Join us for fellowship and conversation around an advertised monthly topic. At our first gathering we will hear a little bit about our theme for the year, “Team Catholic,” meet our new “coach,” and share what our favorite teams are
  • No RSVP is necessary. The conversation is free, but the wine, water and snacks are not.

Laid Back Book Club

Our next Laidback Book Club begins March 8. We will be reading Rachel Held Evans’, Searching for Sunday. Using her personal faith story and the imagery and meaning of the 7 sacraments, Rachel has created a book that is “a must read for all who love Jesus but struggle with loving or understanding or finding their place in the Church.” (Sarah Bessey). Please join us on Facebook or read along with us and then join us on APRIL 23 for a community discussion. The time and place haven’t been decided yet, but get the date on your calendar now

Contact Lyn Pajk lynp@blessedmidland.org for more information about how to join the group or follow this link.