Deacons see prison ministry as blessing behind bars
Ministers say outreach does not induce fear but instead a joy of serving on the peripheries
In some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples before his passion and death, he implored them to act with charity and mercy to all of their brothers and sisters. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. ... Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me” (Mt 25:40, 45). Among the examples of mercy given by Jesus is visiting the imprisoned (cf. Mt 25:36).
This is a call that is passed down to followers of Jesus Christ through the centuries. In our day, in a particular way, this calling is fulfilled by dedicated laypeople and religious as well as priests and deacons who serve as chaplains at jails and prisons all over the world.
Our brothers and sisters in prison are behind literal bars of iron, but they are also behind bars of inner bondage to the things that have brought them to commit crimes against others.
We pray about the forces of evil that seek to continue to hold and eventually destroy these dear ones.
“The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
1 John 4:4
Oklahoma County Jail Ministry
Visitation to the Oklahoma County Jail for those inmates who have requested to see the Catholic Deacon, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, giving out bibles, bible studies, rosaries, and bringing the Eucharist to practicing Catholics.
Our Commitment: Our mission is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the men, women, and teens who find themselves in the Oklahoma County Jail, and lead them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
What We Do: We provide materials for spiritual growth and an introduction to the Catholic Church. For those desiring to join The Catholic Church, we provide a course of study compatible with RCIA and follow with the Sacraments of Initiation. Visiting Priests make the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist available to practicing Catholics who are inmates.
Time & Training Required:
Visits occur several times a week beginning at 8:45 a.m. and lasting 4 to 6 hours. The men’s team visits male inmates on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and on Thursdays the women's team visits female inmates.
Training involves learning by example from an active jail minister. This is something anyone with a heart for serving Jesus can easily learn. There is no greater joy than leading a lost person to a relationship with Jesus Christ and seeing a life changed forever.
Helpful Attributes: Adults who enjoy teaching and mentoring, and are familiar with the bible. It is not necessary to be a theologian.
Deacon Dr. Roy Forsythe
Women's Prison Ministry
Our Commitment: Provide an atmosphere of Catholic Christian community to the women who experience long-term incarceration at Mabel Basset [Correctional Center] by creating a space of unconditional love, emotional/physical safety, and confidentiality. We believe that we bring the Light of Christ into a very dark place filled with many obstacles to live as a Christian.
What We Do: Provide opportunities to learn the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross, study the Sunday scriptures, apply the Word to their daily lives, and distribute the Host. Provide the opportunity for Advent and Lent participation, and celebrate Christmas and Easter services. Study the Saints. Form and support a Society of the Green Scapular. Assist with the RCIA program.
Communication is important. Write letters to inmates monthly, acknowledge birthdays, send cards with encouraging messages at difficult times. Contact families on the outside, acknowledge death with flowers, and attend the service, when possible.
Time & Training Required: Including the commute, plan to participate 1 day or about 8 hours per week.
Helpful Attributes: Ability to demonstrate unconditional love, display a non-judgmental attitude, be a good listener, observe confidentiality, patient and compassionate, appropriate sharing awareness, good mentoring skills, ability to teach scripture, ideas, Catholic principles, good organizational skills, and willingness to obey/follow the facility's rules and regulations