Each year on the sixth Sunday of Pascha, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA calls on all Orthodox parishes to observe Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday, which falls this year on Sunday, May 25. The day highlights the work of the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM), the official Orthodox agency serving the needs of Orthodox Christian inmates, those of other faiths or no faith, and those yet-to-become Orthodox Christians.
“Many Orthodox brothers and sisters in prison suffer from the burdens of their consciences, from their confinement, and from their fears of being unable to function in society,” wrote His Grace, Bishop Mark of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, Episcopal Liaison for the Assembly of Bishops, and Chaplain Patrick Tutella, OCPM Executive Director, in a letter announcing the day. “By reaching out to these members of the body, we encourage them onto the path of repentance leading to reconciliation and the fullness of life granted by Christ, and we ourselves are reminded of our own need for repentance and forgiveness of sins.” [The complete letter is available in PDF format].
The OCA Department of Christian Service & Humanitarian Aid (CSHA) joins the Assembly of Bishops in urging the faithful to learn about prison ministry; to pray for the imprisoned, their families, prison chaplains and volunteers; and to financially support OCPM in its Matthew 25 ministries, especially on Awareness Sunday. Visit the OCPM website for the mailing address or to donate online.
The CSHA’s Resource Handbook for Ministries features eight Prison Ministry articles providing information and insight on outreach by chaplains and offering suggestions for clergy, lay men and women, and parishes to become involved within prison walls or in other compassionate support programs.
- Unbind Him by Father Stephen Powley.
- A Parish Prison Ministry by Father Demetrius Nicoloudakis.
- St. Seraphim Fellowship by James Seraphim Blackstock.
- Reaching Out: Prison Ministry in the Parish by Subdeacon Dennis Dunn.
- St. Michael’s Program of Social Outreach to the Criminally Insane by Father John Kowalczyk.
- Ministering to the Imprisoned by Deacon Rodney Torbic.
- A Ministry to Orthodox Inmates by Father Thomas Mueller.
- Prison Ministry by Archpriest Peter Baktis.