WINSLOW — When someone is incarcerated, sometimes family members and loved ones feel like they are in a type of prison as well.
“I think everybody feels alone and that they’re the only one. They can’t talk to anybody about it. It’s shame. It’s humiliation,” said Rose Dubay, from Poland, whose had a son in prison, according to a news release from Dave Guthro, communications director, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

Bruce Noddin of the Maine Prisoner Re-Entry Network. Photo courtesy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

Now, however, she and others have a place to turn to find the support they need, Rose’s Room.

“I think with Rose’s Room, we can help people get out of that stigma and realize that this isn’t their fault,” said Dubay, for whom the program is named.

Rose’s Room is a support group for the family members and loved ones of people behind bars. The program got its start when Dubay, searching for such a group, reached out to Bruce Noddin of the Maine Prisoner Re-Entry Network. Not finding a program like it in Maine, he established the first Rose’s Room in Auburn in May 2018.

“There is kind of a basic script that is a combination of the script from Alcoholics Anonymous and from a hospice support group. Those were kind of combined,” said Noddin. “We understand that there is an anonymity there.”

In the 19 months that have passed since Rose’s Room started, it has expanded into other communities. There are now Rose’s Room groups meeting in Bridgton, Farmington, Lewiston, Rockland, and Westbrook, and a newly established group met for the first time on Thursday, Feb. 27, at the St. Joseph Center in Winslow.

The new group will be facilitated by Annette Rioux, who has a long history of working with families, including formerly serving as the director of the McAuley Residence, a transitional housing program for women in Portland.

“It’s just consistent with where I believe God’s mercy has to be shown. I do believe that people who are incarcerated and their family members, they’re considered pretty much outcasts from our society, and if there is anything I can do to bring God’s love to them somehow, I would want to do that,” Rioux said.

Rioux says Rose’s Room instantly resonated with her when she heard Noddin and Dubay speak about it at a prison ministry meeting in Augusta. Sister Judy Donovan, CSJ, the leader of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon in Maine, had a similar reaction and offered the use of the St. Joseph Center, which is owned by the sisters.

“The thing that struck me about Rose’s Room was that there was none in Kennebec County, none in Augusta, none in Waterville. We kind of both looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, you know, we could use the center,’” Sister Judy said.

Sister Judy and Rioux were serving together in jail ministry at the Kennebec County Jail at the time, but both say they felt Rose’s Room was where they were being called.

“I think a big part of it was hearing the enthusiasm of Rose and seeing in it, through her, what a benefit it can be for families of people who are incarcerated,” said Rioux.

“It’s a beautiful example of the critical role of laity in the Church,” said Sister Judy. “This is an initiative from the faithful to say there is a need, and not just fill it for me, but I’ll help. I’ll do it. Will you support me?”

The Rose’s Room in Winslow will be held the last Thursday of every month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the center located on 80 Garland Road.

Rioux and Sister Judy say they hope it becomes a place of healing for families.

“I hope they feel at home in this space, and as they meet, they get to feel at home with each other, and they take real ownership of it,” said Sister Judy. “That would be wonderful.”

For more information about the Winslow Rose’s Room, call 873-4512. To find a listing of the other Rose’s Room meetings in Maine, visit re-entrymaine.org/programs. For a flyer to help promote the Winslow Rose’s Room, visit portlanddiocese.org.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.