Notes of Gratitude

On this Thanksgiving day we share notes of gratitude from those we serve!

 

At Dismas Ministry we are grateful for your generosity, and the impact of your giving – to help others find a path to God.

In 2018, Dismas Ministry will send more than 31,000 Catholic bibles (in both English and Spanish) to prisoners. Besides Catholic bibles, Dismas Ministry provides other spiritual materials for prisoners including recovery bibles.

This Giving Tuesday (November 27), Dismas Ministry is hoping to raise $3,750 to purchase 300 special recovery bibles for inmates.
To learn more about Giving Tuesday and how you can help. Click here to learn more about the services offered by Dismas Ministry and how you can help.

Rachel’s Story

While Dismas Ministry provides over 37,000 Catholic bibles to inmates each year, we do, on occasion, receive requests for the Life Recovery Bible. This year we have received requests for approximately 300 Life Recovery Bibles. The cost for these bibles is considerably more expensive than the Catholic bibles we provide. For that reason, we are featuring the Life Recovery Bible as a focus of our Giving Tuesday campaign.

Recently, we received a letter of thanks from a woman prisoner who is very grateful for the gift of her Life Recovery Bible. We want to share her story, in her voice, to help you understand the need for these bibles.

Here is Rachel’s Story.

My name is Rachel, I am 34 years old and a single mother of five beautiful children. On April 6, 2018, I was arrested and began my incarceration. I have struggled with a drug addiction throughout most of my adult life and have had to endure some serious struggles and trauma. I’ve tried very hard to rely heavily on my belief in God for strength and guidance through the difficult times, but my addictions have won out.

When I was arrested, my addiction was at its peak. Satan had his claws in me and, if I hadn’t been detained, my death was imminent. During the first weeks I was in the jail, I struggled with my demons. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a shell of the person I used to be. I knew I was experiencing a spiritual death. I felt guilty and ashamed of who I was, what I had done, and that I had let my children down. I hated myself and I didn’t want to live.

When the volunteers came to jail for church, I knew I needed to attend. I felt empty inside, but I knew that even at my lowest the Holy Spirit was still at work. I felt God’s love surrounding me at church. We were asked if we would like to receive a Bible, a Life Recovery Bible at that, and I knew that God had made this happen.

I am not my disease. God is working on my heart, my character, and my soul every single day.

I received my bible on April 15, 2018. Every day since then I have started my day with a prayer, a 12-step devotional from my Bible, and meditation. There have been days that I feel like nothing good resides in me. During these low days, I’m able to open my Life Recovery Bible and remind myself that I am not my disease. God is working on my heart, my character, and my soul every single day. As long as I keep my eyes on him, I cannot fail. I know that without my Bible, my daily walk with God would have fallen apart.

I was since sentenced to two years in prison. The only possessions I was able to take with me were my Life Recovery Bible and an envelope of pictures. When I arrived at prison, I never felt so lost and alone in my entire life. But, the easy-to-read devotionals, serenity prayer, and reader’s guide on every page of my Bible has made it easy to find comfort and connect with my heavenly Father.

I just want everyone who is involved in funding and distributing these bibles to know what a huge blessing mine has been in my life. When I had nothing, when I was nothing, I learned that my Father is a King. I learned to hold my head high because I am loved — despite my sins, nothing can come between God’s love for me!

Thank you — a million times over.
Rachel, an inmate

Please consider a gift to Dismas Ministry to help inmates like Rachel.
#GivingTuesday (November 27, 2018)

God Was Everywhere

“From the very first day, I was surprised how much God is in prison.”

Curtis was living his life like many ordinary men. He worked a white collar job. He had a wife and kids. His family members were always Catholic, and he had become Catholic a few years earlier. But, because he had become Catholic mainly for his family, he chose not to fully engage in his faith. Life went on as usual.

Then Curtis was arrested for fraud. He was convicted and sent to prison. He spent time in four different facilities – two jails and two prisons. And one of the first things he noticed in all four facilities was that God was everywhere. He found that many prisoners read the bible, and there was a great curiosity for faith among the incarcerated.

Curtis’s sentence was a real blessing in that it was a significant period to focus on his faith. A Catholic volunteer came in weekly and, once Curtis made the choice to walk his faith, the time in prison helped him get his spiritual life together.

Being Catholic is not popular in prison, especially after the unfavorable publicity the Church has received. The negative reputation of the Catholic Church is amplified in prison. Prisoners do not usually want others to know they are Catholic. So getting Catholic ministers and materials into the prisons is imperative in supporting Catholic inmates. While in prison, Curtis came across Dismas Ministry materials – bibles, study courses, prayer books – and felt that they gave more structure, like creating a map for prisoners’ faith journeys.

“Donors probably don’t comprehend how much of a difference they are making. There is no better cause than helping someone find their path to God,” said Curtis.

He shares his story because he wants people to know there is hope and opportunity in prison. Prison ministry helps a lot of people through the materials and the conversation. Dismas Ministry is a channel to provide a strong faith foundation for those behind bars.

Currently, Curtis is serving on Dismas Ministry’s Board of Directors because he wants to give back. He wants to help the incarcerated the way he was once helped. The support from benefactors makes this possible.

Curtis Gibson is from Oregon City, OR and has been a real estate developer for the last 25 years. He received God’s grace while incarcerated. In his second year of service on the Dismas Ministry board of directors, he was recently elected to serve as vice president.

Dismas Ministry Announces New Executive Director

Please join us in welcoming Tyler Curtis as Dismas Ministry’s new Executive Director!

The Board of Directors of Dismas Ministry is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Tyler Curtis as its new Executive Director. She succeeds Founder and previous Executive Director Mr. Ron Zeilinger.

Ms. Curtis brings to the position years of experience in nonprofit communications, fundraising, and leadership. Throughout her career, Ms. Curtis has worked for several charitable organizations in Milwaukee with a focus on health care, higher education, and the arts. The majority of her experience has been in Catholic fundraising.

Most recently, she served as a member of the leadership team of Franciscan Missions, Inc. – a national, Catholic fundraising organization that promotes the missionary work of the Franciscans (Order of Friars Minor) throughout the world. In addition to her work with the Franciscans, she has worked for the Sisters of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians), Marquette University, and Mount Mary University.

Ms. Curtis is a graduate of Marquette University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

“As the Board of Directors, we have been aware of this change in leadership for some time now. We fully support this transition and hope to make it as smooth as possible. We look forward to working with Ms. Curtis and the Dismas team in serving our sisters and brothers ‘inside,’ their families, and the ministries that serve them as well,” said Mark Henry, Vice President.

As Executive Director, Ms. Curtis will continue to build upon the mission and goals of the organization, which includes broadening fundraising, communications, and strategic partnerships.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead this new chapter for Dismas Ministry, which provides for the spiritual care of prisoners and those affected by crime. We are blessed by many individuals, foundations, and other faith-based organizations that partner with us in this important work. Our shared commitment to the poor and marginalized brings hope to those in need of mercy, healing, and peace,” said Ms. Curtis.

Ron Zeilinger will continue to work part-time for the ministry during this time of transition in leadership and for the remainder of 2018. “It has been a grace and an honor to serve Christ among our incarcerated
sisters and brothers, and I am deeply grateful to our fellow Catholics who support this work of mercy,” said Ron Zeilinger.

Please help us in welcoming Ms. Tyler Curtis to Dismas Ministry!

Our 2016 National Catholic Prison Ministry Conference on Living Our Faith Radio

In this #YearofMercy, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is one of the cohosts for the first National Catholic Prison Ministry Conference, Nov. 10-11, 2016. Archbishop Listecki and co-host Fr. Paul Hartmann spoke with our Dismas Ministry director, Ron Zeilinger on Living Our Faith Radio Show about the upcoming conference. Living Our Faith airs in the Milwaukee metro area, on Relevant Radio 100.1FM/1640AM.