Any sentence must always have a window of hope. – Pope Francis
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There are 35 incarceration facilities in the archdiocese with over 10,000 Catholic men, women and youth in federal and state prisons, county jails and juvenile centers. This is a huge mission field for the Church. Many of the offenders are un-churched, have a broken relationship with their family and community and need to hear the Good News of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. If nothing is done to restore the faith of these offenders, the cycle of crime will continue.
Lay ministers are needed to offer Catholic teaching to the adult/youth incarcerated through bible studies, catechism, RCIA, prayer services and rosary, and a correspondence program. Priests are needed to offer Mass and hear confessions, and deacons/trained lay to lead word and communion services. In the community, parish support groups are needed to assist victims and families of the incarcerated, ex-offenders with basic needs and employment, and those dealing with an addiction. In addition, Kolbe retreats are offered to those inside the walls, mentoring for those on parole or probation, and support in other social justice areas.
Training is offered to all interested in volunteering in the following areas:
- Minister to incarcerated adults
- Minister to incarcerated juveniles
- Coordinate ministry for parish
- Lead a support group for families
- Reach out to victims of crime
- Help ex-offenders coming home
- Join Kolbe retreats in prison
- Mentor parolee or probationer
- Help with correspondence program
- Work on social justice issues
The Catholic Church has a rich tradition in ministry to our brothers and sisters incarcerated in Texas. This is rooted in our social teaching, which directs the community to minister to those who are on the margins of society including those in jails and prisons. This attitude of service comes directly from Sacred Scripture, particularly in the Gospel of Matthew (25:36) where Jesus says, “When I was in prison, you came to visit me.”
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Questions or Comments?
Deacon Adrian Cepeda
Director for Criminal Justice Ministry