By Don McClane
Most people tend to avoid criminals. So, why would someone volunteer to minister to the incarcerated?
“I asked myself ‘Why not?’” said Katie Potocnik, a member of St. Patrick Parish, Parsons, who lives in Altamont. “I was looking for a place in church community to serve God, and this was my choice.”
“We have the opportunity to share our devotion with a pious group of gentlemen from a variety of backgrounds who serve the Lord in a challenging environment,” said Mark Mall, a parishioner at St. Patrick, from Parsons.
Potocnik and Mall said the ministry has changed them. Mall said his ministry to the incarcerated has made him a more mature parent.
“When I witness the prayerful posture of the incarcerated, I see how important prayer is in my life and how necessary it is to instruct my children in prayer.”
“Change me?” Potocnik said. “Oh, what graces I have received!”
Has their ministry changed the inmates?
“I can only pray this is true,” said Potocnik. “They are all very appreciative for visits.”
“I’m under the impression that our ministry to them upholds their dignity, hope, and fraternity,” Mall said.
“Don’t be afraid!” if you are considering ministry to the incarcerated, Potocnik said. If you are unable to volunteer yourself, pray for the incarcerated and for more volunteers.
“These men are a great group and it’s a privilege to serve them,”Mall said.
“I am an old retired nurse,” said Potocnik. “I am not a preacher, nor do I know scripture inside and out, but so much compassion and caring is in my heart that I must share what He has given me.
“A good sense of humor can’t hurt either,” Mall said.