Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, Distributes Order of Malta Bibles During the Pandemic
As has been the case in many parts of the country during the pandemic, the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas hasn’t been able to continue its ministry of entering prisons in order to celebrate Mass or provide Catechism classes. However, thanks to the Order of Malta Prison Ministry Bible and Prayer Book Distribution Program, Order of Malta Bibles are still being delivered. “We want to be there for our inmates, even though we can’t actually be there,” said Bonnie Toombs, Director of the diocese’s Respect Life Social Justice Office. “We want them to know we still care.”
Prison Ministry, known in Wichita as St. Dismas Ministry to the Incarcerated, is part of the Respect Life Social Justice Office. The ministry serves 12 prisons and jails, some of them juvenile facilities. Normally, when the facilities are open, members of the ministry take Order of Malta Bibles with them for distribution every time they go in for Catechism class or Mass. During the pandemic, they are working through the chaplains and they continue to get many requests each month.
“It’s just encouraging that people are asking, seeking, wanting to have the Word of life, the Catholic Bible, in their hands,” Bonnie said. Having worked in Prison Ministry many years, and delivered her fair share of Bibles directly to prisoners, Bonnie said the feeling of exhilaration never changes. “We are giving someone a tool to bring them closer to Christ. It’s there every time I go into a facility, every time I’m able to hand out a Bible. This can open up a whole new world for them.”
In every action, from requesting the Order of Malta Bibles, to taking them to the facilities, to seeing the reaction of the recipients, Bonnie witnesses the Holy Spirit at work. “The Holy spirit is there, just like someone’s standing behind you saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes. This is what we need to be doing.’ And, in my mind, when I give Bibles away, I see Christ smiling.”