There’s no doubt about it, the COVID pandemic made it difficult to continue the important work of providing spiritual support in person to those in prison. Thankfully, over the past year, that has changed. We thought it would be a good time to look at how the Order of Malta Bibles and prayer books outreach was making a difference. To that end, we connected with Dr. Robert Fredericks, GCMOb, who initiated the Order of Malta Bibles and prayer books program after starting prison ministry in the American Association. The Order of Malta Bibles and prayer books are printed in English and Spanish.
After a slowdown because of COVID, orders have once again picked up. In 2022 requests have come from Florida to Maine, Connecticut to Ohio to Missouri, Georgia to Texas. “It’s always comforting to me to see our different Areas involved throughout the American Association,” Bob said.
Participating in the program are prisons and organizations that have been receiving the books for years as well as those just discovering the value of this incredible resource. “For example, we handle all seven dioceses in Florida, so that’s a large number of repeat orders that we’ve been fulfilling for some time,” Bob said. “This year I was delighted to see the Benedictines connect to the program.” The Oblates of St. Benedict, located in Atchison, Kansas, cover 120 prisons in 27 states. They recently ordered 10 boxes of Spanish Bibles. “I expect they will be distributing the Order of Malta Bibles to facilities throughout the United States, even beyond the American Association,” Bob said.
Another new order came from Well Path Treasure Coast Forensic Center in Indian Town, Florida, which serves inmates found not guilty because of insanity. “We have over the years received requests for those who are criminally insane who have been incarcerated. I’m glad that we are reaching out to them, because that’s what we should be doing as members of the Order of Malta.”
Bob said one of the things that gives him a great feeling of satisfaction is hearing from former inmates who say they no longer have the Order of Malta Bible from prison or jail, and would like a new one. “Prison ministry isn’t about judging. It’s all about bringing men and women back to Jesus Christ. Hearing someone ask for one of our Bibles means we’ve made a lasting impact on that person.”
If you would like to learn more about the American Association’s Prison Ministry programs, please email Craig Gibson, Chair of the Prison Ministry Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.