Links to articles, stories and other resources of interest to Prison Chaplains
Prison Fellowship International was born out of the experience of Charles Colson, former aide to President Nixon. Convicted for a Watergate-related offense, Colson served seven months in prison. During that time he saw and experienced the difference faith in Jesus makes in people’s lives. He became convinced that the real solution to crime is found through spiritual renewal.
When Colson walked into freedom, he had a new mission in life: To reach out to men and women behind bars, and give them the opportunity to turn their lives around through Christ.
In 1979, he founded Prison Fellowship International, extending the mission and work beyond the United States, and following God’s call to proclaim the Gospel worldwide and alleviate the suffering of prisoners and their families. In 1983, Prison Fellowship International received special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab is a think tank that supports research, teaching, and the provision of spiritual care in a range of settings. As the human spirit grows, changes and struggles, chaplains and spiritual care providers accompany us along the way, regardless of beliefs or who or where we are. The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab fosters research and its practical application to improve the provision of spiritual care for all. We host a wealth of data on the profession, provide practical tools, and offer educational resources to advance the important work of spiritual care providers wherever it is needed.
Rev. Dr. Donald Stoesz, Site Chaplain, Bowden Annex, Alberta
The content of this book provides a way forward for professional chaplaincy in Canada. The first section presents an historical overview of what has taken place in chaplaincy and situates the debate between the sacred and the secular. The next six sections provide specific examples of what is possible. Reflections on the use of coercion and the universality of religion in chapters nine and ten illustrate the unique challenges of prison ministry. The purpose of a pastoral interview in chapter eleven helps chaplains be more intentional in their encounters with inmates. Various programs and courses that have been effective are outlined in chapters fifteen and sixteen. Cases studies of religious accommodation are included in chapters twenty and twenty-one so that chaplains know how to proceed with faith traditions different from their own. Analyses of various chapels in chapters twenty-two and twenty- three assist chaplains in reflecting on the effectiveness of sacred spaces in their facilities. Two book reviews in chapters twenty-five and twenty-six facilitate reader discernment about whether prison chaplaincy is for them.
Overcrowded jails are prone to violence and prisoner unrest. But research shows that prison chaplains can act as a safety valve to help relieve the pressures of incarceration.
Catholic religious women are the backbone of the prison ministry, says Fr. Sebastian Vadakumpadan, Prison Ministry India’s national coordinator since 2011. The nuns regularly visit prisons, meet with prisoners’ families and arrange for the rehabilitation of those who are released. The ministry was started by seminarians from St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary at Kottayam, who used to pray together, and, inspired by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, felt the need to do something for the most rejected and neglected in society.