Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Lord, when did we see you...in prison, and not minister to your needs?"

Kudos to Our Sunday Visitor for Scott Alessi's excellent Chaplains Play Crucial Role in Lives of the Incarcerated (4/22/12), which called attention to the Religion in Prisons survey (Pew Forum, March 2012). As per Mr. Alessi,
  • "While the Pew survey finds that conversions from one faith to another are fairly common in state prisons, Dominican Sister Susan Van Baalen told OSV that inmates are more likely to drift away from Catholicism simply because there are so few Catholic chaplains. In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, she said, there are only 20 Catholic chaplains but more than 50,000 Catholic prisoners [Emphasis added]....
    "Most often, she said, inmates will gravitate toward other Christian faiths that offer multiple activities, such as frequent Bible studies. The Pew survey indicates that Protestant faiths experience the largest growth in prison due to religious conversion, and they are also most likely to have an overabundance of volunteers.
    "According to Sister Susan, the best way to reverse this trend is to increase the Catholic presence in prison ministry."
  • "Deacon José Treviño agrees that there is a need for more Catholic ministers, particularly those who can speak both English and Spanish."
I trust that you will continue to inform us on this topic, perhaps highlighting the work of Catholic apostolates, such as the Inmate Rehabilitation and Re-Entry Program of Joseph Montone's My Father's Vineyard in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

We have been given an incredible "heads-up," as to the absolutely vital nature of this topic:
    "Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was...in prison, and you did not care for me....what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me."
Sincerely,

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I am an enormously blessed husband and dad. In regard to my Catholic theological background, I have a certificate in social ministry & a master's degree (moral theology concentration), as well as a catechetical diploma from the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (Nope, I am not now - nor have I have ever been - a seminarian, deacon, or priest.). I feel particularly proud to have a mandatum. I also have a doctorate in Christian counseling psychology.

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