Informative Overview From Jesuit Founder
The Prison Ministry Committee hosted a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, June 2nd to introduce the Thrive for Life Prison Project. Attendees from three American Association Areas in the extended Metro New York vicinity participated to hear an overview of this creative Prison Ministry Program and to consider possibilities for Order of Malta members to become involved.
Founder of the Thrive for Life Prison Project, Zach Presutti, SJ, led the presentation. At the time of the meeting, Zach had been preparing for his priestly ordination on June 12, 2021. Zach was joined by Nina Valmonte, a senior staff member from the Thrive for Life Project.
Founded in 2017, the Thrive for Life Prison Project is designed to transform lives both behind prison walls and then later as inmates reenter society.
Behind the Walls
The program offers reflective and meditative resources for an examined life rooted in the Jesuit tradition. This takes the form of retreats within New York prisons. “More than 6,000 people in the New York State Department of Corrections have been recipients of our retreats,” Zack said.
Beyond the Walls
The program provides a continuity of care that includes enrollment in higher education and holistic support services for formerly incarcerated students. This takes place at Ignacio House, a residential facility in the Bronx. “This is a house of studies for highly committed and motivated individuals who have started the good work of college education while they’re locked up and now are continuing that at Ignacio House,” Zach said.
Attendees were enthusiastic about the program. A number of Order of Malta members planned to visit Ignacio House to explore volunteer opportunities. One participant asked if there were services for spouses and children of the residents. Zach said that yes, that’s why there is a lot of communal space within the house. They bring families in for dinner or services.
Craig Gibson, Chair of the Prison Ministry Committee, said the committee would be helping Zach and Nina follow-up with Area Chairs in the extended NYC area to explore possible next steps. He also expressed thanks to President Peter Kelly, Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Trexler, and NYC Area Co-Chairs Michael and Marietta Tempesta for their full support of the presentation.
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.