Order of Malta


Prison Ministry’s Pen Pal Program: Every Human Being Is an Individual


Pen Pal Program Provides Way to Help Others.

A life-long New Yorker, Karen Mongiello, DM, first heard about the Order of Malta at a reception in her parish in 2017. “When I prayed on it, I decided that I needed to help others, and it gave me a direction as to how to progress in my life,” she said. Karen was invested as a member of the Order in 2019.

Helping others is far from a new experience for Karen. She has been in her parish for about 10 years and currently serves on the Parish Council and the Stewardship Committee, in addition to being the Parish Advocate for Persons with Disabilities. Before the pandemic, she had been volunteering weekly on the Alzheimer’s floor of a nursing home and serving dinner once a month at The Dwelling Place, a transitional residence for homeless women in Manhattan.

Karen is new to the Pen Pal Program. She’d read about it in the American Association’s newsletter and at first wasn’t sure the program was for her. But she said with the help of other members of the Pen Pal ministry, any reservations she had were put to rest. “They allayed my concerns altogether.” Karen looks at communicating with her pen pal in the same light as her other volunteer work. “Every human being is an individual. They might have different needs and situations, but I approach my pen pal in the same straightforward way.”

Karen sent her first letter in November and included a prayer card and a St. Anthony novena leaflet from her pilgrimage to Italy. Since November, several letters have been exchanged between Karen and her pen pal. They are developing a true connection and friendship. “For my first letter, I used a sample given to me as a template, and after that it was easy. We connected.”

“I think it’s great that the Order of Malta is seeking all different ways of helping others, people in all different situations. And so, I look forward to helping others in the future.”

Karen recommends that everyone look into possibly becoming a pen pal. Your participation is completely anonymous, only one letter is required per month and you would be helping another human being going through a difficult time in his or her life.

Find out more about the Pen Pal Ministry by clicking here.


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