National Organization Provides Publications to Incarcerated
Representatives from all four North American Order of Malta Associations, including prison ministry leaders from each Association, participated virtually in a collaborative meeting hosted by the American Association Prison Ministry Committee to learn about Dismas Ministry.
Headquartered at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dismas Ministry is a national Catholic Prison Outreach program that provides faith, prayer, and scripture resources to prisoners and those who minister to them in all 50 states.
“We provide publications to those who are incarcerated, men and women behind bars, and we also provide those same resources and materials to chaplains and prison ministry volunteers,” said Ms. Tyler Curtis, Executive Director of Dismas Ministry. Tyler and Fr. Richard Deshaies, SJ, Catholic Chaplain for the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts and a member of the Dismas Ministry Board of Directors, were the two presenters for the event.
In his opening prayer, Fr. Rich referred to the incarcerated, saying: “These men and women are the Church behind bars. And we ask you to bless their prayers, listen to them, and show them your mercy and compassion through us, and through one another.”
Fr. Rich described some of the challenges in prisons during the time of COVID, including the practical, such as the need to adapt formerly multipurpose spaces into video facilities for remote court appearances, and the spiritual: “The important thing about prison ministry in COVID time is to not be distracted, is to not allow the passing desolation, or the bad story, or the wayward comment, to prevent us from seeing that God is present and, even more so, active in times of difficulty,” he said.
Tyler highlighted some of Dismas Ministry’s publications, including Catholic Bibles, prayer books and study courses. “The prayer book and the study courses were developed by Dismas Ministry specifically for people in prison, so they’re very unique to our ministry,” she said. I Am Beautiful is an anthology of writing and artwork by women, for women. Messengers of Hope and Understanding Trauma each provide an introduction to serving the incarcerated.
Feedback from attendees at the end of the session ranged from requesting Dismas Ministry materials, to seeking to learn about the impact of generational changes in prisons.
“I’m very impressed with both the quality of the materials and the love that goes into them.” Dan McCarthy, KM (Federal Association) Hospitaller, Milwaukee, Wisconsin