Sunlight shines through prison bars. More help is needed in Southeast Kansas to bring the Light of Christ to prisoners in the Oswego Correctional Facility. (Image by photocreo via Envato Elements)

As prisons ‘open up’ volunteers needed to evangelize and catechize behind bars

Sunlight shines through prison bars. More help is needed in Southeast Kansas to bring the Light of Christ to prisoners in the Oswego Correctional Facility. (Image by photocreo via Envato Elements)

Interested in prison ministry in SEK?

Those interested in evangelizing prisoners at the Oswego Correctional Facility, or any of the other prisons in the diocese, may contact Brant Baca at bacab@CatholicDioceseOfWichita.org or call him at 316-269-3900.

As the pandemic begins to wane in Kansas, the prisons in the state are beginning to open up – so to speak.

The St. Dismas Ministry to the Incarcerated volunteers locked out of their ministry during the worldwide epidemic are now being allowed to visit those behind bars.

Brant Baca, who oversees the diocesan ministry, said the Oswego Correctional Facility, located about 15 miles southeast of Parsons, poses a challenge because Southeast Kansas has fewer potential volunteers than the prisons served by the Wichita and Hutchinson metro areas.

One of the regular volunteers to the Oswego prison drives from Parsons, about 20 miles, and another from Independence, about 33 miles.

“It would be nice to have a few more volunteers to get on the schedule,” he said.

Father Curtis Robertson, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Parsons, and Fr. Jeremy Huser, pastor of four parishes including St. Rose in Columbus, collaborate to celebrate a monthly Mass at the prison. Columbus is about 15 miles from the prison.

“So there are three or four other weeks during a month where volunteers can go in to have bible study, catechism, or have fellowship time with the guys down there,” Baca said.

A transition took place at the Oswego prison during the pandemic, he said. The prison formerly housed men who were older or infirm. It now holds younger men, including those whose primary language is Spanish.

“It would be good to have someone who is bilingual as a volunteer,” Baca said.

Those interested would need to take part in a training at the Eldorado Correctional Facility. An application and a background check are also required.

Bishop Kemme to celebrate Christmas Mass in Oswego

Baca said Bishop Carl A. Kemme will celebrate Christmas morning Mass at the Oswego Correctional Facility on Christmas morning. “He has a huge heart for prison ministry,” Baca said, adding that the bishop rotates the celebration of a Christmas Mass at a different prison within the diocese each year. During normal circumstances he also shares a meal with the incarcerated.