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Mass Incarceration

As a staff photojournalist at a newspaper, you get used to covering the same things year after year. It is our mission to do our best to find something unique.

I work on Sundays which means I cover all of the church services. It is par for the course around here to go to a couple services on Easter. Just like at any other assignment, I try to look for moments and light to make a different picture.

Here are a frames from Easter 2o14:

Dorothy Wright prays Sunday, April 20, 2014, during an Easter service at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Rockford. ©2014

Dorothy Wright prays Sunday, April 20, 2014, during an Easter service at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Rockford. MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM ©2014

EASTER 2014

The Rev. Calvin Culpepper holds the Christ candle Sunday, April 20, 2014, during a sunrise Easter service at Court Street United Methodist Church in Rockford. MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM ©2014

So naturally, as Easter approached this year, I was expecting to be assigned a few services to photograph. However, I only was assigned one. And it was unlike any previous Easter.

This is where my punny headline for the post — Mass Incarceration — comes in.

Bishop David J. Malloy of The Diocese of Rockford held Easter Mass in an empty housing block with about 25 inmates at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford.

It was a very unorthodox setting for a very orthodox ceremony.

Bishop David J. Malloy leads Easter Mass on Sunday, March 27, 2016, in an empty housing block at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Bishop David J. Malloy leads Easter Mass on Sunday, March 27, 2016, in an empty housing block at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

The Bishop took time after the service to chat with each inmate.

Bishop David J. Malloy talks with Nathanial Davis on Sunday, March 27, 2016, after Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Bishop David J. Malloy talks with Nathanial Davis on Sunday, March 27, 2016, after Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

The contrast between the ceremony and ceremonial items with the coldness of the housing block made for interesting images.

Ryan Rice Sr. reads Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Ryan Rice Sr. reads Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Cornelius Brooks receives communion from Bishop David J. Malloy on Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Cornelius Brooks receives communion from Bishop David J. Malloy on Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Bishop David J. Malloy prays Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Bishop David J. Malloy prays Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

An inmate follows along with the service Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

An inmate follows along with the service Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Bishop David J. Malloy holds up a chalice Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Bishop David J. Malloy holds up a chalice Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

The Bishop took time to deliver the service in English and Spanish to make sure all of the inmates understood his message.

Bishop David J. Malloy delivers a sermon to inmates Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Bishop David J. Malloy delivers a sermon to inmates Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

James Williams listens as Bishop David J. Malloy delivers his sermon Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

James Williams listens as Bishop David J. Malloy delivers his sermon Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

James Moore follows along with the service Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

James Moore follows along with the service Sunday, March 27, 2016, during Easter Mass at the Winnebago County Jail in Rockford. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM ©2016

Click here to read the story about the mass.

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