May 1996: Although she works 40 hours a week as a counselor at Willamette Family Treatment Services, 79-year-old Sister Margaret Graziano finds time to volunteer at the Lane County Jail, continuing a prison ministry she began in the early 1970s. A former school teacher and Catholic chaplain, Sister Margaret conducts classes in art and “leisure wellness,” helping prisoners find a healthy balance of work and play to reduce dependence on drugs and alcohol once they leave jail. Besides teaching, she attends to simple, but vital, needs of inmates, such as picking up mail, cashing checks or arranging emergency housing for family members. Drug-dependent males at Lane County Corrections’ Passages residential treatment program are familiar with her gentle ways, as are children at Rainbows Unlimited, a program she developed for youngsters in chemical-dependent families.
2013 update: After 37 years of counseling and classes at the jail, Sister Margaret leaves in February for her new assignment at Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst, a retirement community in Lake Oswego. At age 95, she recently served on the selection jury for Visions from Within, an exhibit of art by inmates, to be seen in February and March at the library, the airport and DIVA. Her brand new book, Memoirs of Sister Margaret Graziano, is available for online viewing at blurb.com