I was in prison and you visited me.... (Matthew 25:36)
The Diocesan Office of the Apostolate for the Imprisoned coordinates all prison ministry activities in the Dallas Diocese. It was organized and subsequently approved in 1992. Since then volunteers have provided religious services and spiritual direction to prison inmates in the Dallas County jail.
Why Prison Ministry?
In Mt. 25, Jesus, who himself was a prisoner, calls us to visit the imprisoned and to take care of the sick, the homeless and the hungry. Volunteers in the Prison Ministry respond to Jesus' call to action by visiting the imprisoned and providing services to them.
Studies have shown that among the prison population in the United States the rates of substance abuse, illiteracy and mental illness are high. When men or women are incarcerated they are down to ground zero. Society has turned its back on them. Family and friends frequently desert them. They have lost their freedom and along with it their self-esteem. At this time they start to feel the need for spirituality, hoping to find someone to give them guidance and support in finding their inner-self again. By responding to this hunger for spirituality prison ministry volunteers are following in Jesus' footsteps.
Where and How do the Diocesan Prison Ministers Operate?
Diocean Prison Ministers practice their prison ministry at the Dallas County Jail and other correctional facilities. The Dallas County Jail, consisting of the North Tower, West Tower, and Kays Tower, houses approximately 6,000 inmates. The dioceasan prison ministers operate in all of these facilities. They celebrate a Communion Service with the inmates on different days of the week. Some of the ministers meet individually with inmates, who request a visit of the chaplain.
When do the prison ministers conduct Communion Services at the Dallas County Jail?
All services for men and women inmates are conducted on Saturday mornings between 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Is there a need for more Prison Ministry volunteers?
At this time the Diocesan Prison Ministry has a team of very dedicated prison ministry volunteers, but is always looking for more volunteers to adequately provide for a large number of weekly services and to respond to requests of inmates for individual visits.
You could make a difference joining the Prison Ministry!
Every year a large number of inmates is released back into society. One study shows that of those released, who received the most religious instruction and support while in prison, only 1 out of 5 returns to prison. Your efforts do bear fruit in changing lives. (Letter PNCEA Prison Ministries, December 2003).
More volunteers are needed to allow for additional services and to ensure continued operation. We encourage you to join us to see if you have a calling for this rewarding ministry.