Deacon Pablo Perez
| | | |

Deacon Pablo Perez: Finding Faith Behind Bars

Season 4, Episode 9 of Messy Jesus Business podcast, hosted by Sister Julia Walsh.

“I go, and I think I’m bringing Church to them; Church is already there.”

– Deacon Pablo Perez



Sister Julia Walsh talks with Deacon Pablo Perez about how he became a deacon and chaplain at Chicago’s Cook and Lake County Jails, after being a gang member himself.

“I was just as reckless as they were. I was just as broken as they were,” Pablo Perez explains. “That’s why I know that investing time in each of those young men…is worth it. Because if I changed, I know they could change.”

Sister Julia and Deacon Pablo Perez discuss forgiveness and mercy, how our Church and society could promote these values, and the importance of truly seeing people who are incarcerated.

“Look at them the way the Lord looks at all of us,” he says.

They also examine the mess of our criminal justice system.

“The whole environment is messy. It’s a mess that no one wants to touch. It’s a mess that no one wants to clean,” Pablo explains. He encourages us, instead, to respond with compassion.


Pablo Perez was born in Guatemala and came to Chicago when he was four-years old, then grew up on the north side of the city. He fell in love with jail ministry in the summer of 2006, when he served as a volunteer at Kolbe House, as part of his formation to become a deacon. He was ordained a deacon in February 2008. A former gang member himself, he now works in the Archdiocese of Chicago as the Associate Director of Kolbe House and Chaplain at Cook and Lake County Jails. 

In addition to ministering in the jail, Pablo ministers at St. Bede the Venerable Parish on the Southwest side of Chicago, where he counsels couples and trains Eucharistic ministers and lectors. He has been married for 24 years and has three children: two adults and one teenager. 

His story is told in the film, RESTORED: Stories of Encounter – Deacon Pablo Perez.

Contemplative Moment is an excerpt from number 16 of the Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera.

MESSY JESUS BUSINESS is produced and hosted by Sister Julia Walsh, and edited by Charish Badzinski.

Email us at


Twitter: @messyjesusbiz


Similar Posts