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!

We found this concept for prison design very innovative and interesting. Let us know your thoughts!

Feature article: Saints Who Were in Prison

Thomas More (1478-1535) was a good husband and father, had a sense of humor, and a pleasant personality. He also was a successful lawyer, scholar and writer, and his talent won both the friendship and recognition of King Henry the Eighth of England. Eventually, the king appointed him to the post of Lord Chancellor – the highest position in the government. It was a great honor and Thomas served with fairness and justice. What at first seemed like a dream-come-true turned into a nightmare that cost Thomas his life. Eventually, the king decided to divorce the queen because they had no children. He desperately wanted a son to succeed him as king. When the pope refused to dissolve the marriage, the king declared himself head of the church in England, divorced the queen and took a new wife.

When citizens were asked to make an oath of loyalty to the king as the head of the church, using his knowledge of the law, Thomas claimed the right to remain silent and retired from public life, resigning as Chancellor. Nevertheless, he was summoned to back to court and jailed in the Tower of London, where he remained in solitude for 15 months …

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Also included in this issue: An Update from Director Ron Zeilinger, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice & Christ’s Body Behind Bars.

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.”

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We told the stories of some of our new Dismas Ministry board members in our Summer 2013 Newsletter, but get to know two of them better in this video interview.