In 1999 God called me into this ministry. I gave my business to my partner and founded St Joseph Cafasso Prison ministries. St. Joseph Cafasso Prison Ministries, Inc. is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) Georgia Corporation dedicated to providing the Sacraments and catechesis to Roman Catholic inmates in maximum and medium-security state prisons and Georgia County Jails.
We seek volunteers and financial support from Roman Catholic parishes in areas close to the prisons where it is possible. Since its inception, St Joseph Cafasso Prison Ministries has been blessed to help bring into the Catholic Church 18 inmates. We have other inmates in RCIA formation for entry into the full body of the Church.
In order to get to these prisons to set up a Catholic presence and to visit the surrounding Catholic churches to recruit a local team, I am required to drive approximately 800-1000 miles per week. This gets very expensive. Another expense we incur is supplying each inmate with good Catholic books and literature. Each inmate gets a Catholic Bible, Catholic Catechism, Rosary beads, a Scapular along with a Catholic prayer book, instructions on how to say the rosary and an explanation booklet on the Scapular plus a current Catholic periodical.
Services are held each week that include the Eucharist and instructional meetings. Catechesis, devotions and prayer groups are adapted to the needs of the prisoners, following the liturgical calendar. Catholic volunteers from the surrounding areas are serving this ministry with full confidence of the Wardens, the prison Chaplains, and prison officers.
There are over 65,000 people in correctional facilities in the State of Georgia in 40+ prisons and 24+ DOC county jails. Many are Roman Catholic, members of the Body of Christ. Sentenced by the criminal justice system to pay for their transgressions, these men, these women, and these young people are among the most despised of human beings, living outside the pale of compassion or even acknowledgment from the larger church community. And they are starving for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Sacraments.
You may be surprised to learn, as I was, that the percentage of hardened criminals in jails and prisons is very low. In fact, most inmates are just like everyone else. They have family issues and personal problems and they have made mistakes in their lives. Often they are truly repentant.
I believe in my heart that every one of them, whether a hardened criminal or a wounded victim, is created in God’s image and deserving of dignity and love. Each prisoner represents a family in crisis. We are all connected in some way to the imprisoned and their victims.
The Church has much to offer in the healing of society. Prisoners need to know that God loves them. They can only know this when we reach inside the razor wire and Celebrate Christ with the inmates. Prisoners need something to gentle their souls so they can hear the voice of God. They need someone to visit, bring the sacraments and pray with them.
This is the mission of St Joseph Cafasso Prison Ministries, Inc. This means weekly Holy Communion to all Catholic inmates that can receive and a Priest on a monthly basis to say Mass and hear Confessions.