The Franciscan tradition compels us to bring friendship and help to the outcast. For Francis, today’s “leper” might be those who are incarcerated. To this end, many of our ministries have taken up prison outreach efforts.
To add to the list, contact Fran Eskin-Royer in Holy Name Province’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.
Ministry work includes weekly visitation of Catholics at the Anderson County Jail. If the visit includes Reconciliation or Communion, meetings are held face to face in a secure room. Otherwise, telephone access is arranged through a Plexiglas wall with other ministers. Two weekly Spanish-language Masses are held at the federal wing of the Anderson City Jail, with the opportunity for Reconciliation. The opportunity for Reconciliation is also offered monthly at the Perry Correctional Facility, a high-security, long-term prison. Finally, those involved in the ministry also work to expunge the records of ex-criminals in support of employment.
Ministry work includes visits to Boston’s Suffolk County House of Corrections,
coordinated by the parish’s JustMatters Group. Those who wish to participate in the ministry must pre-register and obtain security clearance.
The two Buffalo prisons, Attica and Wende, have “Family Reunion” visits. During these visits, the wives and children of the men in the facilities are permitted to stay overnight for two nights with their family members in apartments within the prison walls. To facilitate these visits, the St. Patrick Friary Van Service picks up families from the bus station, airport, train station or from their homes, if they live in Buffalo. The families are taken food shopping and then dropped at the front door of the prison.
At the conclusion of the visit, the van returns to the facility and takes the families back to wherever they were picked up.
Visiting days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If an inmate is on good behavior, he may have a Family Reunion visit every six weeks.
The goal of the program is to keep families together and enable children to bond with their fathers.
Families come from all over New York State and the rest of the U.S. to make visits.
Contact: Br. Vianney Justin, OFM
The ministry focuses on helping those who are incarcerated discover forgiveness, reconciliation and God’s love through visits, letters, prayers, advocacy and other activities.
The mission of St. Anthony of Padua Prison Ministry is to maintain a physical presence within local prisons to spread the Good News of the love of Jesus Christ and His promise of salvation to all who call upon His name. Additionally, the ministry supports outreach programs such as Kairos, Goodwill Industries, halfway houses, and worship services within local prisons. The ministry and outreach programs benefit inmates both spiritually and financially.
The Prison Ministry at St. Francis of Assisi Parish offers friendship, inspiration, and spiritual enrichment to young people in Prince William County’s Juvenile Detention Center. The monthly visits include recreational activities, birthday celebrations, and support.
Friars, parishioners and Franciscan Volunteers visit Howard R. Young Correctional Instituion (aka Gander Hill Prison) in Wilmington, and talk with prisoners. Special effort is made to connect with Hispanic prisoners who speak only Spanish.
Efforts are also made to make visits to other local prisons, as time and personnel allow.
PRISON MINISTRY BY THE FRIARS
Several friars at Siena are involved in prison ministry at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton, N.Y., and occasionally at other facilities. Their main involvement is as sacramental ministers, celebrating the Eucharist, Reconciliation, and sometimes Baptisms and Confirmations. They also help to run a weekly Bible study, a confirmation class (as needed), and a semiannual weekend retreat called Residents Encounter Christ.
A few friars have taught courses in the college program that Siena runs at Mt. McGregor. The friars volunteer to offer for-credit college courses from the Siena catalog. Students can apply these credits to a Siena degree or transfer them to another institution when they are released.
PRISON PEN PAL MINISTRY
The Mission of the Prison Pen Pal Ministry is to reach out to incarcerated men and women in a special way through written correspondence that serves as their eyes and ears to the outside world.
KAIROS PRISON MINISTRIES
Kairos Prison Ministries involves screened volunteers visiting and interacting with adults who are incarcerated. Kairos volunteers return monthly to provide mentoring and guidance through accountability groups with the goal of examining new ways of thinking and providing community.