Order of Malta

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Lifelong Letter Writer Serves the Order of Malta’s Pen Pal Program

05/26/2021 

Interest in the Written Word Blends With Involvement in Prison Ministry

“I’m a letter writer,” said Barbara Dries. “It’s one of the things that I’ve always loved to do since I was a child.”

Barbara has been a member of the Minneapolis Area’s Order of Malta since 2016. She and her husband, David, joined after hearing Fr. Joseph Johnson, an Order of Malta Chaplain, describe the Order as a path to holiness. “The Order of Malta being a path to holiness through prayer and service and in a very ancient way, if you will, was really attractive to us,” she said.

When she heard about the Pen Pal Program, Barbara saw a way to combine her lifelong interest in letter writing with service, specifically, the service mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, “I was in prison and you visited me.”

Barbara has been involved in the Pen Pal Program for a year and noted the people in the Order who administer it have a well-organized system, providing topic guidelines and safety protocols. “They give you a list of the things that the person is interested in, so I try to ask questions about that,” she said.

She also writes about spirituality and sends prayer cards. Her pen pal told her he had recently given his life to the Lord and expressed gratitude that she was praying for him and said he prayed for her too. “I felt very grateful and happy to know that,” she said. She hopes to get to know him better and respond to his needs for spiritual mentoring.

Barbara described her experience as a pen pal this way: “It’s just all about pouring out concern for somebody in a whole other place in life and letting them know they’re not forgotten.”

Order of Malta, American Association, U.S.A.

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