He arrived as a beacon of light and messenger of hope in a place filled with darkness and despair.
It was a blessing for about 70 inmates at the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island Monday morning, as New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan celebrated mass inside the prison's chapel.
"A lot of people come see me. You couldn't come see me, could you? So I wanted to see you," Dolan said.
Convicted murderer Kevin White honored the archbishop with an original song of inspiration and strength.
"It's very reassuring for those who have made permanent changes in their lives, like myself and the others who are inside this prison and those who are striving to make changes," White said.
"He is our bishop and our friend. And that is more important to me, that I could actually talk to him, shake his hand, it means everything in the world to me," said Antonio Quiles, an inmate.
Archbishop Dolan timed his visit during this season of Lent to praise the prisoners for their spiritual growth and acceptance of God's mercy.
"Can you imagine guys that everything in the world is going wrong for them? And here they are singing and praying and smiling and happy and welcoming. That gives me inspiration and hope!" Dolan said.
"Inspirational visits like that bring a lot of light to this place and let's a lot of guys in here know that not everyone has been forgotten," said Louis Gelsomino, an inmate.
It is during the low points of life, acknowledged Archbishop Dolan, when true faith finds its authenticity, a faith demonstrated today by sinners once lost and now found.