New St. Dismas coordinator reaching out

Cindy Kellick, the new coordinator of the diocesan St. Dismas Ministry, brings Jesus to the men in prison in the Diocese of Wichita, with the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Advance photo)

A few months ago Cindy Kellick didn’t think she would be spending time in prison. Now she loves it.

Kellick is the new program coordinator of the St. Dismas Ministry to the incarcerated, something she wouldn’t be doing if her previous position in human resources hadn’t been eliminated.

“I was just heartbroken,” she said. “I knew it was time to make a change and I’ve always wanted to work for the Catholic diocese.”

Kellick, a member of Church of the Magdalen Parish, took part in a Called and Gifted Workshop at Magdalen which is designed to help participants discern what spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, or charisms, they have.

A charism of mercy

“My charism was mercy, but it was mercy for the homeless, the lonely, the elderly. Little did I realize that it would be mercy for those in prison,” she said.

Kellick, who is still in training, started putting her charism to work for the Diocese of Wichita on May 28. “The ministry is more than I thought it would be – I love it. I’m never not busy. I’m constantly doing something.”

She said she has already visited the El Dorado and Oswego correctional facilities.

“I knew this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m helping them see that there is something other than what they are there for – that there is a God who loves them. It’s nice to see their faces, they realize ‘I am someone.’ They don’t feel like they’re a nobody. I let them know that that’s the devil talking, that they are someone, and there are others who do care about him – most importantly, God.”

No fear of prison

When Kellick told her family, friends, and coworkers she would be traveling to the El Dorado Correctional Facility, she said many asked if she was scared.

“No, should I be?” she answered. “I went in there and the doors opened and I wasn’t scared at all. I felt just fine being there. I want other people to know it’s not a scary thing. They’re not people in shackles who are going to hurt you.”

She visited the Hutchinson Correctional Facility last week to pick up her mentor badge and continue mentor training. The Mentoring 4 Success is a program of the Kansas Department of Corrections.
“I want to help people when they are just about the get out with their resume writing skills, their interviewing skills, and to help them get housing,” Kellick said.

“At this point, I’m so new at this role. I’m so excited to keep on going and to get out there to meet as many people as I can to bring them to Jesus.”

St. Dismas is part of the Respect Life and Social Justice Office. Bonnie Toombs is the director.