This ministry has 278 active volunteers going into 24 correctional facilities throughout the Diocese of Grand Rapids. The facilities include juvenile detention centers, county work release centers, county jails and state prisons. We lead communion services, bible studies, RCIA, and have special programming such as teaching basic computer skills, accounting and health and hygiene. Schedules are flexible and there is no minimum service requirement. We only ask that once committed to a date and time, the volunteer follows through.
The first step to volunteering in this ministry is to attend a ministry informational session. Then after attending an informational session and discerning one’s level of involvement, the ministry and facility application process begins. Because correctional facilities take security very seriously, it is a long process. All correctional facilities require the completion of extensive applications, background checks and on-site orientations. But once cleared and oriented, as long as rules are followed, ministry can continue indefinitely. (Note: those with a history of conviction of a criminal offense, felony or misdemeanor, are not allowed to volunteer in county jails, regardless of when the occurrence happened.)
While all of the above sounds rather rigid, and it is, the rewards of this ministry are great. Volunteers profess how much their own faith increases as a result of volunteering. They realize how marvelous it is to speak out loud all those things held dear in their hearts. Volunteers say they even feel slightly selfish, because they get so much more from the ministry than they perceive they give.
The good news is that one does not need to be a theologian to apply. All the necessary tools are supplied. And the most necessary tool, one’s presence, is God given. Therefore, assume you’re qualified.
The next informational meeting is scheduled on January 14, 2014 at Cathedral Square from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Reservations are required. Please call the St. Charles parish office at (616) 754-4194 to reserve your seat for this session.