By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — The offices of the Diaconate and of Social Action and Catholic Charities are hosting a summer study day on the topic of prison and jail ministry June 28 at the St. Vincent Center.
Organizers say the study day offers a broad introduction to jail and prison ministry to deacons, deacon aspirants, priests and anyone interested in this area of ministry.
“We have this mission from Jesus to visit the imprisoned, to take care of the needs of the least of our brothers, said committee member and speaker Deacon Dave Sallen. “It’s a lot different than the average parish ministry. By putting on this study day, we’re giving an opportunity for people to explore a different type of ministry that most people don’t do.”
This year’s study day continues the theme from last year’s study day, Deacon Sallen said. Doors open at 8:30 a.m., and the day will begin with Morning Prayer and welcome at 9 a.m. The event wraps up at 12:15 p.m. with a complimentary lunch.
Deacon Sallen, who ministers to prisoners at the Iowa State Penitentiary Catholic Chapel in Fort Madison, will discuss legal privileges during Study Day. Several other individuals experienced in jail and prison ministry will also speak. Deputy Warden Michael Schierbrock of the Iowa State Penitentiary will talk about the prison’s visiting procedures and training in regards to inmate programs and new prison activities. Deacon Bill Hickson, jail and prison ministry coordinator for Archdiocese of Dubuque, will give a presentation on jail and prison ministry in the archdiocese. Sgt. William Boyd from Scott County Jail in Davenport will discuss local volunteer opportunities and procedures. Deacon Troy Egbert of Residents Encounter Christ in Missouri will give a 30-year history of the program and its ministries. Father Joseph Phung of St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant will share his personal testimony. Kent Ferris, diocesan director of Social Action and Catholic Charities, will conclude the program with a talk on diocesan and Catholic Charities’ services.
Deacon Sallen said prisons are in need of ministry, especially considering that the State of Iowa phased out paid chaplains in the late 2000s. The pastors in Iowa responded to this by offering monthly Masses at the Iowa State Penitentiary, but there is a need for more pastoral and volunteer involvement.
“The inmates are hungry for the faith,” he said. “They want to receive the sacraments. They want to experience Christian fellowship. They are so happy when we come in, and they thank us when we’re leaving. It’s a very rewarding experience.”
He hopes the seminar will reinvigorate those currently in prison and jail ministry, and get new people involved by giving them the resources they need to “feel comfortable evangelizing to the inmates and providing Christian fellowship.” Additionally, he hopes clergy who have not had prison or jail experience will gain the knowledge to do ministry themselves and help get their parishioners involved.
Deadline to register is Monday, June 9. To register go to http://www.davenportdiocese.org/dcn. For more information, contact Deacon David Montgomery at (563) 888-4222 or Montgomery@davenportdiocese.org, or Kent Ferris at (563) 888-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.