“Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:2
An August 2011 article by Deacon Tom: Why Should Christians Mentor Criminals
Who are we?
St. Mary’s Prison Jail Ministry is the work of the whole community. It enlists the resources of faith communities and human service organizations in helping the successful reintegration of offenders through non-judgmental, affirming presence promoting spiritual healing.
Jail & Prison Ministries represent the hope that in the future faith communities and churches will develop true partnerships the Lane County Jail, community corrections programs, Oregon Department of Corrections and the county probation and parole department to ensure safe reintegration of offenders into our communities.
Who is God calling us to be?
Our ministries are grounded in the three of our commitments made in our Episcopal Baptismal Covenant:
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
Will you see and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
To each of the questions we answer: We will, with God’s Help!
Who is our Neighbor?
Chaplaincies may undertake a wide variety of activities with a variety of clientele. Some of the activities may include pastoral counseling, individual support, including correspondence and sending books, worship, advocacy, and referral to other community supports such as Sponsors, St. Vincent de Paul, School District 4-J, Lane Community College and other humans services agencies. Clientele include offenders in custody and on release, spouses (legal or common law), families as a whole, the community the victims of crime and the criminal justice system itself.
What are we called to do?
As our becoming informs our doing we are called not so much to bring others to Christ as to be Christ to them by:
- Praying for them individually and during the Prayers of the People in our congregations.
- Being a non-judgmental presence to them as we visit them in prison or jail.
- Meeting their physical needs for housing, food and clothing.
- Writing to them in response to questions about returning to Lane County where we are the Regional Chaplain for DOC.
- Providing books, magazines and carrying on-going correspondence as perhaps their only friend.
- Helping negotiate the community by providing bus passes, money for drivers licenses or rent or food.
- Giving spiritual counseling to individuals and families.
- Advocating for better and more effective treatment through our work with the Partnership for Public Safety & Justice.