Getting the Word out to those behind bars

St. Dismas Ministry Coordinator Brant Baca is finding it difficult to keep up with the demand for bibles for prisoners. (Advance photo)

St. Dismas Ministry barred from sending in volunteers during the crisis

Want to help?

Those who would like to organize a bible drive in their parish or among friends may contact Brant Baca at StDismasWichita@CatholicDioceseOfWichita.org or at 316-269-3900 ext. 165. Baca said he would also be happy to share information about how to order them through St. Jerome Press, which will deliver directly to the Chancery.

The men and women in jails and prisons in the Diocese of Wichita are in a lockdown not only for their crimes but because the coronavirus pandemic spreads quickly among close-packed populations.

Prisons are barring visits by St. Dismas Prison Ministry volunteers because of the pandemic, which has resulted in an extraordinary demand for bibles and other religious materials.

Brant Baca, the coordinator of the diocesan ministry, said as a result of the heightened isolation, volunteers, catechists, and families are prohibited from visiting.

The Sedgwick County Jail is particularly in need of bibles because of the high turnover of prisoners there, he said. “We’re averaging about 30 bibles a month and they could take a few more.”

Prisoners seek more materials

Inmates at the El Dorado Correctional Facility have requested rosaries, scapulars, and reading materials.

“Anything we could give them they would take,” Baca said. “The challenge is keeping up with the demand for materials because we’re not used to providing so many materials. We usually have people going in, filling that gap for educational materials.”

Baca buys his bibles locally from St. Jerome Press, a sister company of Wichita-based Fireside Catholic Publishing. He can buy bibles in lots of 100 for under $400 from St. Jerome Press.

“With the jail taking about 30 a month, that doesn’t stretch too far,” he said. “My anxiety is that when everyone opens up, the jails that have let nothing in are going to need everything. So, we’re trying to prepare for that and keep up with the current demand for materials.”

Baca receives some free bibles from the Order of Malta, but there is a lag of several weeks before they are delivered.