Volunteers from St. Matthew Parish have undergone training and orientation qualifying them for entry and participation in a new ministry program at the Pendleton Correctional Industrial Facility. Planning began in the summer of 2019 with representatives of the Indiana Department of Corrections and the Lafayette diocese, culminating in new Catholic Ministries at Pendleton starting in January 2020. Volunteers from our parish include Michael Sample, Robert Schlafer, Michael Fisher, Dan White, Bob Michael, Elza Howard, Jim Barbar, and Kevin Janowicz.
What does this new ministry entail? Ministry takes place at Pendleton on Thursday mornings. Volunteers join inmates for Mass on the first and third Thursdays of the month and lead the inmates in scripture study, faith sharing, and faith formation on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month.
I don’t have any experience, what training is required? No special training or experience required. This is primarily a “ministry of presence.” Through consistent, faithful presence on the part of volunteers, the intent is that inmates come to see true followers of Christ committed to living the gospel and bringing His message of love, mercy, and forgiveness to others. The inmates recognize the sacrifice made by volunteers and greatly appreciate their presence and support.
What is required for volunteers to obtain entry? Volunteers must complete Indiana Department of Corrections training on prison policy, procedures, and regulations, which typically takes a couple hours. Volunteers agree to submit to a background check. Note that previous incarceration does not preclude entry.
What is the time commitment? The time commitment is very flexible. If you are available once or twice a month on a Thursday, that will suffice.
Is this the same as Kairos? Kairos is a separate program, derived from the Catholic Cursillo, which is always seeking new volunteers and represents another option for those interested in this type of ministry. Kairos supports two weekend events each year, one in the fall and one in spring.