A National Catholic Prison Ministry in the works.
Dismas Ministry launches a National Campaign striving to bring awareness to the over 300 Catholic dioceses in the United States that are in desperate need of Prison Ministry Volunteers. This National Prison Ministry Awareness project titled, “Where are the Catholics?” strives to shed the light on the severe lack of Catholic involvement in Prison Ministry.
Many religious organizations provide prison ministry to the incarcerated but, the Catholic community is severely lacking in its ministry to answer the call of the gospel. One Catholic prison chaplain states, “Non-Catholic volunteers outnumber Catholic volunteers by nearly 40-1.
The Word of God is clear–outreach to the imprisoned is enjoined on all Catholics by the Christ himself who not only gave us his words “You visited me when I was in prison” (Matt. 25:36) Yet the sad truth is that the Catholic community has not always responded to this often neglected work of mercy. Many parish and diocesan websites do not include prison ministry among the list of ministries, and many parishes and dioceses do not have a prison ministry coordinator or prison outreach. We want to recognize and celebrate that there are parishes and dioceses that are already doing a tremendous job of bringing pastoral care to inmates within the boundaries of their parishes, however we are far from meeting the growing need.
Through this National Prison Ministry Awareness project Dismas Ministry is asking all the over 13,000 Catholic Parishes to do the following:
• Give prison ministry a prominent place on your parish website,
• Ensure that someone is appointed as prison outreach coordinator to recruit and train volunteers,
• Visit the inmates within your parish boundaries at regular intervals,
• Include prison inmates and victims as well as their families in the prayers of the faithful.
As part of our effort to raise awareness of the need for a stronger Catholic prison outreach, we invite you to share what you are already doing, or would like to do, to bring pastoral services to inmates. The hope of this Nation Campaign is to encourage a national support network as well as a response that equals or surpasses the efforts of non-Catholic prison volunteers. Contact Dismas Ministry and let us know what you are doing in your parishes! Go to www.dismasministry/ACT to share with us your ministries.