SHERIDAN, Ill. (WLS) -- For 50 years, he's been helping inmates in Illinois. Father John Waugh, the chaplain at Sheridan Correctional Center, was honored in a surprise ceremony Tuesday.
A man who has preached the word of God to inmates for decades is now on the receiving end of thanks and praise.
"He helped me despite everything I'm going through. He let me know that it's all right," Jeremy Wrenn said. He came to Sheridan a year ago for robbery.
He started a choir and said he's changed his life for the better, thanks to Father Waugh. Same for Jeffrey Sadlowski.
"Being in prison is not fun, so he keeps my faith up, he keeps me seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," Sadlowski said.
Life after prison is what Father Waugh focuses on. The 89-year-old also officiates a Catholic Mass once a week. He also arranges services for inmates of different religions.
"That they have a contribution to make and we're trying to help them bring about change, in our perspective, for the better," Father Waugh said.
Members of Father Waugh's large extended family were on hand for the reception.
"He, like his brothers and sisters, is very inspirational to all of us because of his faith and what he does here at Sheridan is fantastic," said his niece, Maureen Harney.
Father Waugh has no plans to retire. In fact, he expects to maintain his rigorous schedule of coming here five days a week, starting his day earlier than everyone else.
Sheridan Correctional Center chaplain honored for 50 years of service