To be part of a prayer group held in a prison chapel can often bring inmates comfort. For the men at MCI Concord in Massachusetts, that comfort must be even more meaningful, as their chapel was once visited by Mother Teresa. “There’s a presence of Mother Teresa in this chapel,” said Bob Nephew, KM, one of the Boston Area members who runs the weekly rosary program at the prison.
Bob has been a member of the Order of Malta for 10 years. While he’d been involved in prison ministry at other locations, there was something about Concord that seemed to call to him. “My commute to work every day took me past MCI Concord. Every day I drove by that prison I said to myself, ‘I want to get in there. I want to do something.’”
MCI Concord is a medium security prison for men. Every Tuesday evening, volunteers and inmates gather in the chapel. The group chooses one of the mysteries, and each of the participants takes a turn reciting a decade. After the rosary, they take turns reading from a spiritual book, the current one being about Maximilian Kolbe, a priest who volunteered to die at Auschwitz in place of another. “The humbling thing about this exercise is that after we finish reading, people share what the meaning of the reading was to them,” Bob said. “Their insight, their depth and faith, their openness, their complete vulnerability is remarkable.”
Bob sees the Holy Spirit at work in the prison both in himself and others. “Being there Tuesday nights is one of the high points of my week,” he said. “I’ve felt my own faith deepened by the experience that I’ve had with the men and the other volunteers.”
As there currently are not enough volunteers for the ministry, he hopes other members of the Order in the Boston Area will join him and Dick Howley, KM, even if it’s just for one night a month. “There’s an amazing feeling of warmth, gratitude, acceptance, friendship and mutual caring.”
Bob is soon retiring and will be headed to Comstock, NY. He hopes to connect with other members involved in prison ministry to continue his service there. If you would like to learn more about the MCI Concord weekly rosary ministry, or one of the other American Association prison ministry programs, please email Craig Gibson, Chair of the Prison Ministry Committee at email@example.com.