Pandemic is confining prison ministry

Brant Baca is surrounded in his Chancery office by catechetical materials destined for prisoners. He is the new coordinator of the St. Dismas Ministry to the Incarcerated. (Advance photo)

Want to take the Good News behind bars?

Those interested in volunteering for the St. Dismas Ministry to the Incarcerated may contact Brant Baca at bacab@CatholicDioceseOfWichita.org or at 316-269-3900 ext. 165.

Ministry coordinator wants to take Jesus to all who are incarcerated

Brant Baca is trying to get into prison – every one of them in the Diocese of Wichita.

Baca, the new diocesan coordinator of the St. Dismas Ministry to the Incarcerated, is working to recruit priests and volunteers to equip them to break into those prisons and jails with the good news of Jesus Christ.
But that won’t happen until the powers-that-be sound the pandemic all-clear.

“My interest in the ministry started long before I ever looked at this position,” he said from his office filled with catechetical materials. “Being one of the corporal works of mercy, it was something I felt drawn to.”

Baca, a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Mulvane, said the ministry is unique but not well-known.
“When this position came available, I had a few people approach me and say, ‘I think you ought to apply. I think this would be a good ministry for you,” he said.

Although he had a job he was comfortable with, one in which he could freely move about, Baca said he prayed about it asking Our Lady to help him get the position in the ministry “if this is a way to work out my salvation – if this is God’s will.”

Apparently, it was. Baca began as the ministry’s coordinator on July 6.

He struggled for years, he said, after discerning out of religious life and the seminary. “So, this seemed like that perfect next step to be involved in ministry in some way.”

His goal is to have the ministry “busting at the seams” with priests and volunteers.

“I would hope that every person that is incarcerated, in whatever capacity that is, whether just in jail or in prison long-term, that we would be able to provide for the needs of every single soul that requires the help of the church.”

Before he can get to that point, though, Baca said he is meeting with the volunteers with plans on recruiting more assistance, including priests, so that Masses can be celebrated and confessions heard weekly at all the prisons, and so that RCIA and catechetical programs are available for all prisoners.

Baca said our Catholic faith is not boring and that he is excited to be in a position in which he can share that faith.

He hopes to reach out to luke-warm Catholics to engage them and teach them that Catholicism is rich and exciting.

“Jesus Christ is exciting,” Baca said. “He did a lot of great things. He’s our hope and our faith. To be able to bring that sense of excitement back into their lives, I think, is one of the main goals.”