Gratitude for Order of Malta Bibles and Prayer Books at the Ontario County Jail
Patt Jones had been volunteering in the literacy program at the Ontario County Jail in Canandaigua, New York, when she discovered they had a Prison Ministry there. As soon as she signed up to participate, she knew the ministry was right for her.
Patt put her energy into helping to grow the ministry, arranging for the jail to provide a room to use as a Catholic chapel and starting Sunday communion services and interfaith rosary prayer groups.
It was her pastor’s connecting her with someone recently out of jail that brought the Order of Malta Bible and Prayer Book Distribution Program to Patt’s attention. She met the former inmate for lunch, and he told her about the program. “The Order of Malta provides free Bibles and prayer books?” she asked. “You have to be kidding! We’ve been collecting old, used Bibles from the churches and giving them out.” Before she knew it, Patt had 50 new Order of Malta Bibles and prayer books. “I couldn’t believe their generosity. It was manna from heaven.”
She gave the books to the inmates who came to the communion service as well as to some Protestant inmates attending the interfaith rosary prayer groups who asked for them. “I love the Order of Malta prayer book, because it offers a wealth of prayerful inspiration to those who need it most,” she said. Patt encourages everyone to use both the Order of Malta Bible and prayer book daily as a way to reach Our Lord, and a way for Our Lord to reach them. “And the look of gratitude on their faces melts your heart” she said of the inmates’ responses.
When Covid-19 hit, the jail system curtailed Patt’s ability to provide the Sunday communion service and interfaith rosary prayer groups. Every Sunday morning since April, she has been leaving individual packets at the front desk of the jail that include a letter addressed to the inmate personally, copies of that Sunday’s readings and other inspirational messages. If there is a new inmate that week, she provides an Order of Malta Bible, a prayer book, and rosary beads.
She said the Holy Spirit fills her with joy that there is an organization that provides new Bibles and prayer books for inmates.
For more information about the American Association’s Prison Ministry Program, contact Craig Gibson, Chair of the Prison Ministry Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.