Buffalo Prison Ministry Receives Approval to Expand Housing

Rebecca Doel In the Headlines

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Peaceprints Prison Ministries, a nonprofit agency that helps rehabilitate former inmates, is increasing its facilities. The collection of ministries is just over a year old, after the merege of Province’s Cephas program and Hope of Buffalo.

Expanding Ministries
Construction is nearly complete on eight additional bedrooms at Bissonette House, according to a March 15 article in The Buffalo News. The expansion will be dedicated May 14, with an open house from 4 to 6 p.m., according to Peaceprints’ website.

Additionally, the agency has finalized a deal with the Diocese of Buffalo to buy the former Holy Apostles SS. Peter and Paul Church and rectory with plans to use the rectory to house as many as eight former convicts with two or three supervisory staff.

The OK comes after an initial rejection from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and neighborhood residents have “expressed reservations about the conversion plan,” the article reported.

Michael Oberst, OFM, executive director of Cephas House, said Peaceprints is considering remodeling the church into a community center and housing the St. Patrick’s Food Pantry and Thrift Store there.

“It could be used as a community meeting area for book clubs, Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, office spaces and other needs the neighborhood might identify.” Michael also said the grounds could include a community garden, but as of earlier this month “nothing is decided.”

Raising Funds
The January 2010 Peaceprints newsletter, Callout, reported that the ministries group has received a $165,000 grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation to fund the hiring of an executive director to lead the newly-merged organization. The foundation, established in 1940, strives to be a catalyst for change to enhance economic vitality and the quality of life for the Buffalo-Niagara region.

Michael said the 2010 Phoenix Awards dinner and fundraiser, held March 20, raised $17,000 for Peaceprints.

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.