In 2007 the Catholic Conference of Illinois (CCI) began to bring together the individuals responsible for Prison Ministry in the six diocese of Illinois, namely, Diocese of Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, Joliet, Springfield and Belleville. This discussion led to the formation in 2008 of the Illinois Catholic Criminal Justice Network which embraces all Church members and agencies whose ministries are related to all aspects of incarceration and returning citizens back into the community.
The purposes of the Illinois Catholic Criminal Justice Network are as follows:
- To link its members together for the sharing of information and resources.
- To coordinate the delivery of Catholic Pastoral Care and services to prisoners and all those affected by the criminal justice system.
- To foster the recruitment and preparation of volunteer ministers in all areas of criminal justice.
- To speak with a unified Catholic voice to departments of correction on their policies and procedures that impacts the performance of these ministries.
- To advise the bishops and their dioceses, the Catholic Conference of Illinois, government officials and the public at large, on important issues of criminal justice.
The Network has established a “Prison Ministry Leadership Curriculum” that covers a series of course created to support the six Roman Catholic dioceses of Illinois who seek to provide greater numbers of qualified individuals for ministerial leadership in prisons and jails. The four courses and workshops are conducted through Lewis University, Department of Theology, and provide the following:
- Provide qualified leadership in jail and prison settings throughout the state of Illinois in each of the six dioceses.
- Award sixteen (16) credits toward an undergraduate theology degree at Lewis University.
- Deliver important requirements toward certification for prison chaplaincy.