IRON MOUNTAIN - Spirituality is the driving force behind the new home that officially opens Friday for incarcerated adult men being released into the community after serving time in the Dickinson County Correctional Facility.
The Alpha Omega Residential Rehabilitation Home is located at 112 W. Brown St. in Iron Mountain.
Approximately 50 people attended a blessing and dedication ceremony held at the house on Thursday afternoon.
Catholic Diocese of Marquette Bishop Alexander Sample said he never expected this many people.
"We bless and inaugurate this home for those out of incarceration, so they can experience love and fraternity and support. And they can find a way back on their feet and be a productive member of the community," Bishop Sample said, adding that this is an effort of local churches, law enforcement and the community. "The thing that unites us is Jesus Christ Our Lord."
Sample added the home, which is open to eight qualifying adult men, is a example of what can be done when the community comes together.
Following an opening prayer, Sample blessed every room in the house.
Deacon Donald Christy said there will be a screening process with the advisory board, clergy and Lt./Jail Administrator Bryan Price, and Dickinson County Sheriff Scott Celello for those who apply to live in the house.
That process will consist of a 90-minute orientation, questionnaire and background check.
"No one with an arson, felony assault and/or a sex offender on the Sex Offender Registry will be able to enter the home," he said. "Recommended will be the person with the most desire and potential to be rehabilitated."
Felony offenders under psychiatric care or taking anti-psychotic drugs will not be admitted into the house.
The house will be available for up to 90 days at no cost for men who have recently completely jail time. Residents will have to observe very strict rules at the home, including a zero-tolerance policy regarding drugs, alcohol, or weapons of any kind.
Deacon Christy said spirituality will be a huge part of the Alpha Omega home.
"No atheists or anyone who says they don't believe in God will be recommended, and the house is not funded through the government or state, so we can do that," he said.
Christy added the home officially opens today and the first resident will occupy the home when the Holy Spirit leads them there.
"God is present at all times in this home and he will do all that is necessary to assure you attain your goal and realize your dreams in life. You must, however, open the door of your life before God will enter. It is time to stop looking for God in all of the wrong places. He has already found you," Christy said.
Christy said the Diocese has plans to open a second home in Iron Mountain for the female population. That could possibly be the home across the street.
Christy's and Sample's dream is to have homes like this throughout the Diocese.
Sheriff Celello commented on how the Alpha home will be a good thing for the community.
"It gives individuals a second chance, and I strongly believe it will cut down on repeat offenders and how they behave in jail," he said. "If they do good they have an opportunity to be recommended for the Alpha Omega home."
The home, owned and operated by Catholic Social Services of the Upper Peninsula, will be managed by Darin Smith, a chef, medic and former inmate who served time for drinking and driving.
Mike Angeli, president of the CSS Board of Directors and Marquette Police Chief, said the home is needed and well-supported. The Diocese was able to purchase the home with the help of the Salvation Army.
He added he has not heard any negativity about the home. No one from the community has voiced any negative comments.
A ribbon cutting for the home was held on Thursday.
Traci Jahnke from Congressman Dan Benishek's office presented a plaque of recognition to Bishop Sample.
A representative from Senator Tom Casperson's office also attended the ceremony.
Lisa M. Reed's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.