Palm Beach Deacon Spreads God’s Word
“I need to know how to pray.”
For most of us, who attend Mass regularly, have a working knowledge of the Bible, petition God in times of need and express gratitude to Him for our blessings, that cry might have a plaintive ring to it. It’s like saying I need to know how to breathe. Nonetheless, it was a simple statement made to Deacon Gregory Quinn by a young man in the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Deacon Quinn has been the Director of Prison Ministry for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, for the past five years and also is responsible for RCIA and Faith Inquiry at St. Paul of the Cross Parish in North Palm Beach, Florida. Deacon Quinn distributes Order of Malta Bibles and Prayer Books to 20 correctional facilities in the Diocese of Palm Beach. St. Lucie’s is one of those facilities. The deacon was on his first Zoom call with young men at the facility. “I was showing them a movie on Lent in five-minute excerpts,” he recounted. “It started with Nicodemus and his encounter with Christ and being born again, and how to understand that properly.” The deacon noticed they weren’t exactly interested. It was when he asked if there were questions that the young man stated, “I need to know how to pray.”
Seeing that the teens had the Order of Malta Prayer Books in their hands, Deacon Quinn said, “You’ve got the greatest book you can have right there to help you learn how to pray.” He also told them they didn’t have to wait until they could get to their prayer books, that they could always simply have a dialogue with God.
Deacon Quinn has been distributing Order of Malta Bibles and Prayer Books for years, having first been introduced to them when he was Director of Prison Ministry for the Archdiocese of Newark. “It just impressed me so that one of your charisms was to go to the prisons,” he said.
Every quarter he orders approximately six cases of the books, three in English and three in Spanish. He said the Spanish books have become particularly important as one of the diocese’s ministries is with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The office provides temporary housing to unaccompanied teenage girls, primarily from Honduras and Guatemala. “Those Spanish prayer books and Bibles are essential in introducing the girls to God’s Word and prayer,” he said.
Whether for adult inmates or younger males and females struggling through their own challenges, Deacon Quinn is helping to provide spiritual guidance with support from the Order. He said, “Whenever I’ve needed Bibles and prayer books, the Order of Malta has been there to supply them.”
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.