Order of Malta

American Association Prison Ministry

“Just as God never abandons us, so too we must be in covenant with one another. We are all sinners, and our response to sin and failure should not be abandonment and despair, but rather justice, contrition, reparation, and return or reintegration of all into the community.”

Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration:
A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice.
A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States
Issued by USCCB, November 15, 2000.

When, as members of the Order of Malta, we recite the Daily Prayer, we thank the Lord for calling us into loving service to our neighbors, especially the sick and poor and those at the margins of society. One pathway of service to the poor and marginalized is through Prison Ministry.

“We do it because the Lord has commissioned us to love our neighbor, to feed the hungry, to visit the imprisoned. We’re giving praise to God by doing what He has commissioned us to do.”
Fran Buckley, Prison Ministry, New York

Early in 2013 the Grand Master asked the three United States Associations to work together on Prison Ministry. Sometime later, Canada was invited to join the three associations. The Grand Master’s request has led to what today is a seamless operating structure known as the North American Prison Ministry Apostolate. On this page, we present to you the work of the American Association’s Prison Ministry. You will also find a link to the North American Prison Ministry Apostolate.

Prison Ministry is a response to the voice of the Holy Spirit and the call to extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need. It is the call found in Matthew 25, where the teachings of Jesus provide a model that helps guide us in caring for one another. Christ gently reminds us to bring food, drink, and clothing to those in need; care for the sick; welcome the stranger; and visit the imprisoned.

Through Prison Ministry, we engage with those who have fallen away from Christ, to help bring them out of darkness and into the light of God’s love and mercy, to grow in the Spirit, and to journey toward holiness. It is a ministry of listening, of presence, a ministry that brings a brighter sense of hope to those who are struggling to find their way home. Our mission is to serve others, and yet, by showing compassion to those in need of such care, each of us progresses farther along the path toward a deeper relationship with the Lord.

Our Work

Our work falls into four categories:

  • Visitation and OutreachListening and Being Present Inside the Walls: This is the largest direct contact we have through Prison Ministry. Our members and chaplains visit inmates to participate in the Liturgy, provide support and fellowship, pray the rosary together, conduct weekend retreats, provide spiritual direction, lead Bible Study, bring books purchased from local library book sales, and share an overall sense of fellowship.
  • Re-entryHelping to Rebuild Lives: At the point inmates are leaving incarceration, our members provide mentoring, assistance with locating housing and higher education, and help with job searches.
  • Bible and Prayer Book DistributionBringing the Word of God: We provide Bibles and Prayer Books to inmates, offering the opportunity for spiritual nourishment and growth in the Spirit.
  • The Pen Pal ProgramSupporting From a Distance: Many of our members participate in the Pen Pal Program, a secure way to visit. From a distance, our members develop connections to prisoners, often the only connection an inmate may have to the outside world.

“I get more emotional fulfillment in supporting these prisoners than from almost anything else on earth. Helping these men understand how the Gospel affects their lives deepens my own understanding of the Gospel and helps me grow in faith.”
Bill Mattison, Prison Ministry, Florida

Opportunities To Participate

As an Individual: If your Area has a Prison Ministry Program, we encourage you to talk to your Area Chair to discover opportunities to participate. Whether you feel the call to be part of the ministry of presence and listening inside the walls, are more comfortable in the Pen Pal Program, or believe you can make a difference in the reentry process, you will find the work rewarding on so many levels. Click here to learn more.

As an Area: Many of our Areas do not yet have Prison Ministry programs. We would be happy to help you set one up. Click here to fill out our contact form and get started. Or click here to check out the Prison Ministry section of the Spirituality in Action Resource Book, where you will find descriptions of other Prison Ministry programs. Any one of the Area Chairs would be delighted to talk to you about the ministry. To find contact information for Area Chairs and Activity Coordinators, please click here to log into the Members Only section of the website.



Order of Malta, American Association, U.S.A.

American Association, U.S.A
1011 First Avenue, Room 1350
New York, NY 10022
(212) 371-1522