Paulist Prison Ministries seeks for all prisoners the peace that Christ’s love and truth alone provides. Catholic inmates hunger for resources so that they can grow spiritually. Many also seek resources so they can grow more knowledgeable about the faith to defend it to those who deride it and guard against the power of darkness in prison. As one prisoner put it, “Prison is the devil’s playground.”
Paulist Prison Ministries serves the spiritual and religious needs of Catholic inmates in our nation’s prisons. We also serve other inmates, many of whom have no church family, who are seeking to learn about the Catholic faith and way of life. The Bibles, newsletters, prayer cards, and other Catholic religious material we provide are available in both English and Spanish. Most of it reaches prisoners through the chaplains and volunteers ministering in the prison.
Without these quality Catholic resources, Catholic prisoners are left alone in a sea of anti-Catholic literature and pornography. Catholic literature such as Paulist Prison Ministries provides is truly a lifeline for Catholic inmates. It changes lives – reducing the likelihood of a return to prison. Studies have shown that those prisoners most involved with religious activities while in prison have a significantly lower rate of recidivism than those not involved.
We currently serve over 513 of the approximately 4,500 prisons in the United States. There are over 2,200,000 men and women in the nation’s prisons. An estimated 28 percent, or 588,000, are Catholic.
It costs approximately $367 per year to provide materials to each prison through the chaplains and volunteers serving there. Click here to see a table of the services provided and their costs.
Our services include:
Prison chaplains receive copies of our quarterly newsletter Let’s Talk! and its Spanish translation called ¡Hablemos! (Click here for a newsletter archive.) The newsletters include several regular features in each issue, including a question and answer column with responses to questions sent in by inmates. In addition, Deacon Dennis Dolan, a prison chaplain in Connecticut, writes a column on prison spirituality based on his experience ministering to inmates. Other columns—on spiritual topics, prisoner saints, and on what to listen for in the season’s liturgies—also run in each newsletter. Each issue also includes an invitation to the readers to join with the pope in his monthly prayer intentions.
Both English and Spanish language Bibles – New American Bible Revised Edition (English) and Santa Biblia Sequnda Edicion (Spanish) – are provided to chaplains as well as prisoners who write in requesting the Word so they can grow in the Knowledge of the Lord. Depending on the situation in each prison, chaplains may keep the Bibles in a central location for group use or distribute them to prisoners for personal use. We try to re-supply chaplains with Bibles once every two years, depending on availability of funds.
3. Invitation: The Search for God, Self and Church
This 116-page Catholic learning guide for adults is especially popular with prisoners and chaplains. The question and answer format presents the truths of the Catholic faith in an appealing and easy-to-understand way. Chaplains use it for prison study classes on Catholicism and give it to individual inmates for personal use. Click here to see sample pages of Invitation.
4. Master sheets for prayer cards
These sheets enable chaplains and volunteers to make copies of the Daily Prayer for Justice and Mercy (click here) and the Guardian Angel prayer (click here). Both prayers are very popular with prisoners and their families. Pre-printed prayer cards are also available for chaplains and volunteers.
5. The Book of Catholic Prayer for Everyday
This prayer book can help individuals to begin a regular life of prayer. Based on a monthly cycle of prayers familiar to many Catholics, the little book helps to center a prayer life – especially for prisoners who so often find themselves in situations not conducive to prayer.