Jail & Prison Ministry 101

Jail & Prison Ministry 101 covers six training and formation videos recorded during a pre-conference workshop at the 2019 National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) National Conference – “Partners in Pastoral Care: Continuing the Healing Ministry of Jesus in the Name of the Church” held in Mundelein, IL from May 31 to June 3.

These six video recordings cover fundamental topics and issues pertinent to persons involved in Catholic jail and prison ministry. By sharing their ministerial experience and rich theological understanding of mission discipleship, presenters Fr. George Williams, S.J., and Fr. Dustin Feddon communicate valuable teachings on how Catholic chaplains and volunteers an bring the love and light of Christ into correctional facilities.

Fr. George is Catholic Chaplain at San Quentin State Prison in California, holds a PhD in Criminology from Northeastern University, and is a visiting professor at the University of San Francisco. Fr. Dustin is an experienced jail and prison chaplain, serves as an administrator for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Sacred Heart of Jesus parishes, and is the Executive Director of Joseph House in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

The Jail & Prison Ministry 101 video are as follows:

Pray-Spiritual Formation I

Pray-Spiritual Formation II

Listen-Pastoral Care Formation I

Listen-Pastoral Care Formation II

Love-Skill/Knowledge Family I

Love-Skill/Knowledge Family II

This six part video series lays the groundwork for anyone seeking to serve people affected by incarceration.

More information is available by contacting Lou Slapshak (Associate Coordinator of Prison Ministry) of the Diocese of Belleville, IL (lslap@mindspring.com)

One Parish – One Prisoner … Transformation

This is the story of Chris Hoke who co-founded Underground Ministries in 2017 with a former gang member / prisoner who became a close friend and teacher. It started when someone told Chris that in Washington State there is roughly the same number of churches as there are prisoners. It had him thinking: What if every church wrote to, adopted, and received just one prisoner? We would empty the prison system, and every church would change.

We called the movement: One Parish, One Prisoner

One Parish, One Prisoner is a re-entry model that matches parishes with an incarcerated person for their mutual transformation and resurrection. Two-way trust is build via letter writing and prison visits. And when the time comes, this person will release to a waiting embrace of an entire parish community who already knows then and can assist with the many obstacles to re-entry.

  • Underground Ministries currently has fifteen One Parish, One Prisoner churches including Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, and Episcopalian and evangelical that are organized and trained across NW Washington State. They are all paired with one man or woman in a WA prison, building mutual relationships of trust and growth by exchanging letters, making prison visits, and building a local release plan together.


America leads the world in incarcerating its own people. Almost two and a half million human beings are locked away in mass social tombs, an overstuffed underground beneath our society. The Lazarus story is the story of the American church in the age of mass incarceration. These incarcerated men and women are not physically dead like Lazarus but they are cut off from loved ones, family and their children. Large geographic distances, dozens of thick walls, and expensive phone calls seal these men and women off from the land of the living. They are effectively dead to society.

Jesus raising Lazarus from the underground can be a blueprint for resurrection and prisoner reentry today. For starters, Jesus knows the name of the dead. He loves Lazarus. He weeps over his friend. That’s what motivates the miracle. This is where writing letters come in – they establish the relational power of knowing each other on both sides of the envelope. We can also participate in reentry resurrection today when we know the name of the incarcerated person and have established a relationship. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead by calling his name in much the same way that the letter relationship has changed the prisoner and the parish support group.

When the inmate gets out of prison he is still underground. They tend to go back to old friends, neighborhoods, addictions, illegal drug dealing, knowing they’ll get caught eventually. This is where the parish needs to help to move the massive stone which is the many societal barriers that we build against prison reentry. This can only be moved by the people of the parish group working together.

There is still another problem since the prisoner is still wrapped in many layers of protective cloth that wraps him up in darkness as a mummy. These wraps are layers of distrust, survival patterns, addictions, defenses that cover deep stories and wounds that have not healed. But Jesus tells the community to “unbind him.” And in gentle relationships, those many layers come off for all of us. Once in relationship, we start to see one another for who we really are. We heal.

One Parish, One Prisoner is the story of a church taking on as mentor one prisoner through building a relationship (raising from the dead) while in prison and then on release working together to move away the stone (caring and assisting for the physical wants and needs) and then removing the burial bandages (dealing with the trauma of daily life, family and community) to become a person with human dignity and a productive member of the community.

Contact: Underground Ministries – Joe Cotton (Joe.Cotton@seattlearch.org)



Developing Pastoral Care Formation – Prison / Jail Ministries

The National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) in partnership with the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition (CPMC) is holding a “Pilot Project” Town Hall on August 6th, 2020 via ZOOM. The session will be co-hosted by David A. Lichter, DMin (Executive Director, NACC) and Harry J. Dudley, DMin (Ambulans Vobiscum Consulting LLC).

Dr. Lichter and Dr. Dudley, along with pilot program participants, will discuss an upcoming formation / certification curriculum for Volunteers, Para-professional and Professional Chaplains who minister to those affected by incarceration and detention. They will provide an update on current progress in developing resources to assist you in forming and enriching those who are called to minister to all affected by incarceration. Questions about the pilot project and questions for the Town Hall can be sent to (rfranitza@nacc.org) with CPMC Town Hall in the subject line.

Statement of Solidarity: A Catholic Response to COVID-19 Behind Bars

Pope Francis urges all of us not to forget those in prison and detention. No matter the harm one has caused or suffered, every person is made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect. COVID-19 has affected every community, especially the most vulnerable among us. The pandemic is particularly devastating to those living and working in prisons, jails, and detention and re-entry centers where close quarters have resulted in a dangerous spread of the disease.

As a Catholic community we wish to convey a message of solidarity to currently and formerly incarcerated and detained individuals, their loved ones, as well as those who are charged with their care and well-being. We urge our fellow Catholics to join us in standing in solidarity with our all too often forgotten brothers and sisters who are affected by incarceration and detention.

The impacts of the corona virus in jails, prisons, and detention centers are severe. Thousands of incarcerated individuals and facility staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, and over 100 people have died.

These reports also show that COVID-19 presents a profound challenge and responsibility for caring for those incarcerated and detained. Jails, prisons, and detention centers are very difficult to keep sanitary due to frequent entry and exit of staff and, in the case of immigrant detention, frequent transfers of detainees among facilities. Limited resources for preventative measures, protective equipment, and health care can create conditions that allow the virus to wreak havoc. Reports of lack of testing suggest measurements of the impact of the virus are incomplete. We are deeply concerned that experiencing COVID-19 from behind bars could, for some, mean a de facto death sentence.

The challenges to this population are also unique. Prison chaplains and ministers have very limited access to deliver sacraments, notably the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist, or to offer spiritual support. Attorneys also do not have regular access to their clients. Isolation, without family visits or visitors and limited or unaffordable virtual visits, increases anxiety and fear.

Those returning home from incarceration face unprecedented distress during the pandemic. Due to their criminal record, which in some states limits access to employment and assistance for housing and nutrition, and other basic human needs, returning citizens are now even more challenged since existing social services are overwhelmed. Similarly, released immigrant detainees can encounter tremendous obstacles in receiving adequate access to care and transportation to be reunited with loved ones, and need social support to ensure compliance with immigration proceedings and successful community integration.

Those who are incarcerated or detained and those caring for them, remain in our prayers. We also continue to urge political leaders to make all efforts to ensure the health, safety, and spiritual well-being of those inside, including correctional and detention staff. The COVID-19 crisis presents profound challenges for our country and our world. As we struggle to care for those in need and keep our communities safe, Pope Francis reminds us that there are no “throwaway lives.” As a Church, we are being challenged to creatively consider ways to be present to people behind bars and to those returning home—to see each other’s wounds, meet their pressing needs, and to become agents of God’s restorative work in the world.

Catholic Mobilizing Network


Catholic Mobilizing Network is a national organization that mobilizes Catholics and all people of goodwill to value life over death, to end the use of the death penalty, transform the U.S. criminal justice system from punitive to restorative, and to build capacity in U.S. society to engage in restorative practices. Through education, advocacy, and prayer, and based on the Gospel value that every human is created in the image and likeness of God, CMN expresses the fundamental belief that all those who have caused or been impacted by crime should be treated with dignity.

CMN works in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is a founding member of the Congregation of St. Joseph Mission Network.

What We Do:

Education: CMN creates and distributes educational material about the Church’s pro-life teachings regarding the death penalty and restorative justice for use in parishes and faith communities.

Advocacy: CMN supports and energizes state campaigns to repeal the death penalty and amplifies the Church’s call for the end of capital punishment. Working with bishops, State Catholic Conferences, Catholic dioceses, religious communities, partner organizations, members of the laity and more, CMN empowers people of faith to speak out against the death penalty in their own communities and implore their state officials to repeal the practice.

Prayer: CMN recognizes the power of prayer and encourages and facilitates prayer for victims of violence, for those on death row, and for a justice system rooted in mercy and compassion. Being grounded in prayer serves as a catalyst for people of faith to act to end the death penalty.