The Missouri Area of the Order of Malta, American Association focuses on assisting the Criminal Justice Ministry (CJM), a non profit organization in St. Louis, in its work of helping clients re-enter society in the following areas:
Let’s Start provides support to women and their families to assist recovery and re-entry. Over the past year, the programming focused on virtual support groups, which met weekly. The groups included Women’s Support and Healthy Relationships. One woman, who had been struggling with addiction, said she has been able to rebuild her family relationships and is on the path to management at her place of employment.
The First Services department offers clients who have been released from jails and prisons access to several resources. The department provides essentials for re-entry, including food and housing assistance, medical referrals, hygiene supplies and clothing. The department also assists clients with obtaining birth certificates and IDs, bus passes, Greyhound tickets to get them home and pharmacy vouchers. One First Services client received bus tickets to return home to his family and also received a custom Welcome Backpack that included a book of crossword puzzles to prepare for the 36-hour journey.
The Malta Van
The Missouri Area’s new Mobile Van Ministry is modeled after a ministry the Order of Malta, Western Association established first in California. Greg and Kathy Gantz, Missouri Area Co-Chairs, helped establish the mobile van ministry in St. Louis.
Its overall purpose is to assist agencies serving people in the extended community who are poor and underserved. The mobile van ministry focused initially on helping the Criminal Justice Ministry, St. Patrick Center, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski blessed the van in late 2020, and then it began helping the Criminal Justice Ministry furnish apartments for men recently released from prison. Previously, the Criminal Justice Ministry had rented a moving van. CJM has greatly appreciated being able to access the van for its various needs.
Because of the COVID pandemic, CJM was not able to provide services inside the prison and jail facilities. Volunteers continued the longstanding Pen Pal Ministry and provided virtual classes over Zoom.
“The commitment of our staff, volunteers and donors has allowed us in this difficult time to continue to provide vital services to our clients who are making the transition from incarceration to productive lives,” said Mike Mooney, one of the coordinators for Area Prison Ministry programs.