Bibles and Prayer Books Make Life in Prison Better
Grace Dawgert, from the Pennsylvania – Scranton Area, had already been running a reading and writing program at Lackawanna County Prison in Scranton when she attended the American Association Annual Meeting eight years ago. It was at the meeting that she heard discussion about the Order of Malta Bibles and prayer books. “I marched myself up to the front and said, ‘How do I get those?’” Ever since, she has made sure to have a good supply on hand for the inmates. “I was just so thrilled that the Order had something like that,” she said.
Grace’s visits to the prison are on hold as a result of the pandemic, but she knows the inmates are very appreciative of the books. “They’re beautiful.” She said the inmates are not used to getting anything that’s nicely done because what is available in the prison store is not of high quality. “The Bibles and prayer books are beautifully presented, and you might not think it, but that means a lot to people who have nothing.”
Beyond the presentation is the impact the content has on the inmates. “The prayer books have a prayer for everything. I just love them,” she said. One of the highlights is the Order’s Daily Prayer. “When I tell the inmates that, around the world, people say this particular prayer every day, and they should too because they’re praying for each other, they love it. One lady started crying. She couldn’t believe that people around the world would care about people in prison.”
Grace also sees benefits in helping inmates have a structure in a situation where they spend a lot of time on their own. “I think it helps them put some order to their lives. If you open your Bible or prayer book, either every day, or even once or twice a week, you have something to reflect on. It brings God’s love to you because you don’t have a lot of direction.”
From the time she first heard of the Order of Malta Bibles and prayer books, Grace was pleased to be part of a group that cared in this way. “I felt very good about the fact that the organization I belong to thought so much of people that they would do this. That the Order is saying to the inmates, ‘You have value. You’re worth giving this to.’”