In Camerado, I Give You My Hand, author Maura Zagrans tells the inspiring story of how a widower became a Catholic priest and is now changing the lives of men in the dangerous prisons in the heartland of America. Father David Link, Dean Emeritus of Notre Dame Law School, spent over four decades working in jurisprudence and now, in his new role as pastor, sees our criminal justice system as a lost, prodigal son in serious need of guidance and direction. This is a profound, moving story of healing and redemption, one that reminds us about the value of human life, the power of forgiveness and the everyday need for compassion and friendship. Go even deeper with these discussion questions for the book. Use them for individual reflection or for a group study!
Who is a Camerado?
How do you understand the expression, “love is a verb; everything else is chatter”? What does it mean to you?
Of the brothers Father Dave serves, what did you learn from their stories?
Who are Father Dave’s heroes?
What steps are needed to resuscitate hope for the homeless and those in prison? What steps can you take to help?
Father Dave sees the potential for the justice system to incorporate itself as a vital part of the healing professions. What role can lawyers play in healing social conflict?
Consider the contrast between Father Dave’s early years and the childhoods of the prisoners. What importance can a strong father figure have in a man’s life? How can we cultivate positive male role models and strengthen bonds in families and communities?
Many of the prisoners we meet in Camerado attribute their profound changes to the experience of having just one person believe in them. For these men, having a positive mentor affected their minds, hearts, and behaviors for the better. Have you had a mentor or role-model help you through a tough time? Have you had the opportunity to be a mentor for others in need? What did you learn from those experiences, and how can you share them with others in need?
In his Crime Peace Plan, Father Dave writes, “Every law-abiding citizen should demand drastic changes in the criminal justice system, changes that will interrupt the crime cycle.” How has your perspective on the crime cycle been affected by Camerado? What changes to the criminal justice system would help your community?
Which prisoners’ stories in Camerado evoked your desire to see prison reform begin to take place?
Who are the camerados in your life? What qualities do they share with Father Dave? What qualities do they share with the prisoners we meet in Camerado?
We culturally dehumanize those who have made mistakes. Father Dave shows that the men profiled here are humanized by their mistakes and are given the opportunity for redemption. What human qualities do you have in common with the men you meet in Camerado? How can you help those who have made mistakes in your community?
Having read Camerado, if you were pen pals with a prisoner, what are some of the things you would say?
Camerado explores several areas of Father Dave’s life: At Notre Dame, as a prison Chaplin, and as a loving husband and father? What Notre Dame story affected you the most? Which story from the prision made the deepest impression on you? What aspect of Dave and Barbara’s story moves you?