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Diocesan Prison Ministry: You Can Help!

Visiting the imprisoned is among the corporal works of mercy, and in

Matthews gospel, Jesus says that when we care for those in need, we care
for him: Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least
brothers of mine, you did for me. And a few verses earlier, He says
specifically, I was in prison and you visited me.

Some of our fellow parishioners are involved in our dioceses prison

ministry. Its mission is to serve the Lord by encouraging the prison inmate
population to become more active Christians during and after their incarcer-
ation. Those involved from our parish attend monthly prayer meetings at
Greene Correctional Facility and host three-day Catholic retreats twice a
year. The next retreat is coming up on the weekend of October 17-19.

The rest of us have been asked to offer our spiritual support for the
Residents Encounter Christ (REC) weekend, that it be a fruitful and
enriching experience for all involved. We can do so in a couple of ways.
Intercessory prayer is both powerful and effective. Well pray as a
community, but I also ask you to include intentions for the REC in your
personal prayers.

We can also participate through Palanca Letters. Palanca is the act of

praying and offering sacrifices for the residents in prison. Writing a Palanca
Letter is a way to encourage residents in their resolve to change and grow in
faith, by letting them know people are offering prayers and sacrifices on
their behalf.

A sample Palanca Letter is on the other side of this page. Please consider
taking a few moments to practice what we preach, which is to love our
neighbors as ourselves. You can make a real difference in the lives of those
who need to know theyre not forgotten. Letters from children are
particularly heartwarming.

You may bring letters to Mass or drop them off at the parish office. Please
do so by Sunday October 5th. Thank you for helping to bring the presence of
the Lord to the least of his people. Yours in Christ Fr. Michael.
Sample PALANCA Letter

Dear Brother in Christ:

I am writing to give you spiritual support for your participation in the REC program.
Your presence at the retreat means your heart is open to the Lords working changes in
you. Our brother Jesus is extending his hand to you. Take it in confidence and faith!
Don't miss the chance to know and grow in his love. Only in Jesus and with Jesus will
you find true freedom. The time you are serving now is temporary; the freedom Jesus
gives is forever.

I am very happy that you are participating in this weekend, and I want to encourage you
to make the most of it. As a pledge of my support for you I will: (list prayers and
sacrifices you will offer). God bless you always.

Your Brother/Sister in Christ,

First name only.

Note: If kids are writing the letter, they also usually tell the prisoner that they know that
they did something wrong, but that God forgives them, and that they will pray for them.
Sometimes they promise they will say some number of Hail Marys or Our Fathers, so that
the inmate will grow closer to God.