Order of Malta


The Simple Joy of Postcards to Pen Pals


An Easy Way To Make a Big Difference

It’s such a simple thing. Picking up a postcard when traveling and sending it, via the Order of Malta Pen Pal Program, to someone who is incarcerated. That’s what Ed Delaney, Chancellor of the American Association, does when he travels. Ed was introduced to the Pen Pal program after attending a presentation on Prison Ministry. “They talked about how lonely prisoners are, how a prison is the loneliest place in the world,” Ed said. “That really moved me.”

The presenter suggested one of many ways Order of Malta members could participate in the Pen Pal Program was to send postcards from the travel locations. As Ed has had the opportunity to travel extensively, the idea resonated with him. “I send them from all over the place, whether from Cape Cod or Gloucester, Massachusetts, or from Florence, Jerusalem, or London. It’s very simple to do, and I always just sign it, ‘Your Friend From the Order of Malta.’”

The full impact of Covid-19 has curtailed Ed’s travel plans, but he still tries to find postcards even if he is staying closer to home. “I can almost point to a store that’s going to have postcards,” he said. This past summer, Ed sent his pen pal a postcard from Nantucket. He thinks of how he may be bringing a little joy into someone’s day, or maybe adding some curiosity to someone’s life. “Maybe my pen pal is wondering about Nantucket, where it is and what it’s like.”

Ed wants people to know that they don’t have to write long letters to be part of the Pen Pal program. A simple postcard is an easy way to make a big difference. “I can imagine that this prisoner might be putting up the postcards, and other prisoners are walking by and saying, ‘Oh, you have a new postcard. Where’d you get it from this time?’ It’s adding a little conversation to their lives.”

And it is responding to Jesus’ guidance in the Gospel. “I think about Matthew 25. I was ‘in prison and you visited me,’” Ed said. He may not be physically visiting the prison, but through the simple medium of a postcard, his thoughtfulness and kindness are making a difference and hopefully lifting the loneliness and spirits of an inmate.

For more information about the American Association’s Pen Pal Program, contact Steven Hawkins, Program Coordinator at hawkins.steven1969@gmail.com.

Order of Malta

American Association, U.S.A
St. Patrick’s Cathedral Parish House
14 E 51st Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 371-1522