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La Mama: An American Nun's Life in a Mexican Prison (2010)

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How does an American nun end up serving a 'life sentence' in a Mexican prison? Mother Antonia, 'La Mama', has done so by choice for more than 30 years. After a life of privilege in Beverly ... See full summary »

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How does an American nun end up serving a 'life sentence' in a Mexican prison? Mother Antonia, 'La Mama', has done so by choice for more than 30 years. After a life of privilege in Beverly Hills that included 2 marriages, 2 divorces and 7 children, Mary Brenner became a nun at age 50. She felt called to Tijuana's most notorious prison, La Mesa Penitentiary. Outside prison walls, she founded her own order, Servants of the Eleventh Hour. Like La Mama, they are all older women who believe they can make a difference, serving the poorest of the poor. Despite alarming violence in Tijuana and severe prison overcrowding, Mother Antonia says she will never leave 'sus hijos', the prisoners she considers her sons and daughters. Written by Anonymous

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A brief Biography of a Rare Person
4 March 2011 | by See all my reviews

In a country such as Mexico, plagued by an epidemic of wanton violence that often includes gross atrocities simply thrown in for good measure, those who populate its prisons are not the most sympathetic of individuals. Someone who chose to give up a life of affluence, to leave friends and family in America to join this world, actually living in a cell among the felons, would have to be some kind of a nut...or a saint.

She is far from Crazy. It looks from all appearances that in the case of Sister Antonia Brenner, the subject of this film, that we have the rarest of persons who has an abundance of humanity, with no shortage of the kind of smarts that allows her vision to be realized. The La Mesa prison was a microcosm of a small Mexican city, with a main square surrounded by taco stands, and housing that reflected the status of inmates, with the rare Cartel honcho in a fully staffed top floor apartment.

Sister Antonio had no money or connections, only love and courage, and a belief that no matter what crimes these men had committed they were still redeemable. She freely gave unconditional love to all, guards and inmates alike, and by denying them the hatred that they thrived on, disarmed them, and brought peace....at least for a while. She is the real deal; the overflowing love that she feels from her God, enough to share with every one of his children.

I just saw the half hour film followed by a talk by the writer/producer, Jody Hammond along with a dozen members of the Order that Sister Antonia founded to continue her work. Anyone who has the opportunity to see such a showing should grab it, as these are real people with a kind of humanity that is out of fashion. In a world that seems to grow more cynical each year, to see with our own eyes that there are still, as archaic as it sounds, saints who walk among us, has to provide some hope for us all.

Addendum:

This obituary appeared the New York Times of October 21, 2013, Antonia Brenner, 'Prison Angel' Who Took Inmates Under Her Wing, Dies at 86


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