Being Renourished in the Catholic Faith
Some of them may have been in prison for 15 or 20 years and, in all that time, have never held a Bible or had Catholic Sacraments.
As a Chaplain at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Rochester, Minnesota, Fr. Bernie Lattner has had the opportunity to change that, providing Order of Malta Bibles and Prayer Books to the patients. The FMC Rochester is a U.S. federal prison in Minnesota for male inmates requiring specialized or long-term medical or mental health care.
“I’ve seen some of the men drop right to their knees and cry as they receive the Order of Malta Bible and are welcomed back, or renourished, in the Catholic faith,” Fr. Bernie said. “It’s the presence of Christ in our work here.”
The Federal Medical Center is a hospital for incarcerated men that houses over 600 patients. The facility focuses on infectious diseases, cancer, geriatric diseases, incapacity and severe mental health issues. The Chaplain’s Office serves not only Catholics but also a significant number of Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and other denominations.
Fr. Bernie has been Chaplain at the hospital for eight years. When he first arrived, he saw that the facility was sorely lacking in Catholic Bibles. A timely mailing from the Order of Malta Bibles and Prayer Books program came into the Chaplain’s office at that point, and he placed an order for the Order of Malta Bibles. “I mean they flew off the shelf,” he said. Having a supply of Catholic Bibles for all who want them provides consistency. “All the participants are reading the same version. That benefits everyone,” Fr. Bernie said.
Fr. Bernie sees his work in the hospital as a movement of the Holy Spirit within himself. “Christ tells us that we’re to go and care for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, the sick, the suffering, and the imprisoned. And when you go where He tells you to go, you may not even know what to do when you get there, but He’ll always provide what’s necessary.”
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.