Director Ron Zeilinger was interviewed for the article: Freedom behind bars, Inmates can grow spiritually even while in jail, thanks to dedicated prison ministry volunteers. – By Brian Fraga – OSV Newsweekly, 11/3/2013.
Here is the excerpt of Ron’s part in the article:
Still, even if quietly, thousands of Catholic inmates hunger for spiritual nourishment. Many inmates often write to the Milwaukee, Wis., offices of Dismas Ministry, which provides Bibles and faith study materials, including rosaries and prayer books, in English and Spanish, to inmates across the country.
“For them, in many cases, they don’t have anybody they can reach out to,” said Ron Zeilinger, who is director of Dismas Ministry. “So when they get something like a Bible and prayer book, it’s gold in their hands. It makes quite an impression. On our feedback forms, we get nice responses and spontaneously written letters on things going on in their spiritual lives.
“It’s an honor and a grace to meet them at that level,” said Zeilinger, who also visits prisons to participate in prayer services and restorative justice programs.
“It’s always a touching and profound experience when you meet the men and women, shake their hand, look them in the eye and see their face,” Zeilinger said. “It puts a human face on them. The first impression is that these people are just ordinary people. Maybe they’ve done some stupid or foolish things, but it really is a humbling and human thing to be with them.
“You don’t feel threatened, or ill at ease,” Zeilinger added. “They’re very grateful to have you there. They usually give you a warm reception. They’re grateful that someone would come and spend some time with them.”