The mission of the Prison Chaplains Ministry is to provide the sacraments and spiritual counseling to incarcerated Catholics, creating a Catholic presence within correctional facilities. Prison chaplains serve not only Catholics but also persons of all faiths, providing spiritual counseling and spiritual solace. Deacon Tim Zinda, leader of the Prison Chaplains Ministry, in addition to many priests and Catholic volunteers, provide an outpouring of support to these individuals while in jail or prison.
So, you might be wondering, “What happens when someone serves their time and then is released? What support does the Prison Chaplains Ministry provide at that point?”
Well, in 2015 a program called EMBRACE was created—the acronym stands for Eucharist, Mercy, Brotherhood, Restoration, Action, Compassion, and Encouragement. This effort was spearheaded by Deacon Zinda himself, inspired by his work as a prison chaplain. When interviewed about this program, Zinda commented that “when [these individuals] are released, they need support to find housing, a job, [and] transportation.” EMBRACE facilitates the building of a relationship between these inmates who are soon to be released and volunteers who support these people on a relational level, spiritual level, and practical level. Zinda emphasizes that the job of the volunteer is “not to do it all for them” but just to “participate until they can manage on their own.”
At the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation, we understand and support the idea that there are many ways to give back to the Church. Please consider a donation or volunteering your time in support of an individual looking to comfortably integrate back into society. As Deacon Zinda says, “It can be hard to explain to people whose impression of the imprisoned is from television and the news, but if I could bring each person in here, you see that not everyone has had a good life and sometimes a hard life affects what people do.” In this Year of Mercy, we are all called to EMBRACE our neighbor.