“Friendships That Might Have Never Formed but For His Grace”: A Reflection from Larry Fitterer, OCPM Board Member

On my first Sunday of the Last Judgment after I became an Orthodox Christian, I heard our deacon read the Gospel from Matthew 25. For reasons I did not understand at the time, Christ’s words deeply struck me that day: “I was in prison, and you came to Me.” It wasn’t long after that my close friend, Lazarus, was shockingly arrested, convicted of very serious crimes, and sent to prison for decades.…

“I Started Baking Up a Storm”: A Christmas Story

The harsh realities of prison life don’t go away around the holidays, and a person’s release from prison is by no means the end of his or her struggle. But there are moments of real joy, too. Enjoy this simple and beautiful story Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) recently received about a man’s experience being ushered into a parish community after his release. Two years into my 20-year sentence, I started writing…

Our Deepest Gratitude: Thank You to Supporters on GivingTuesday

When Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) announced its 2022 GivingTuesday campaign in honor of the new Storybook Connections program, which sends storybooks to children read and recorded by his or her parent in prison, there was a lot of initial excitement. But no one could have guessed how many people would commit to supporting this ministry on GivingTuesday. When OCPM set a high goal of raising $30,000 in one day, donors went…

“I Look at the Rays of the Sun, and I See Christ”: A Reflection from Roy Azar

As OCPM’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, and one of OCPM’s newest staff members, I was very fortunate to recently travel to Pennsylvania to meet with our Director of Training and Spiritual Care, Fr. John Kowalczyk, and see him in “action.” For two days we visited SCI Waymart Correctional Facility with Fr. John as he made his weekly rounds. I got to see first hand as Fr. John provided pastoral care for the…

“I Want to Be a Member of God’s Church”

As we continue to the Liturgical New Year season, we are so excited to share with you the inspirational story of our friend, Johnny, who found the Orthodox faith while in prison. Johnny’s testimony is such a powerful example of what Christ is doing in prison through your support. Please enjoy the video and share with anyone you know who needs encouragement!

Needing Help on All Sides: Counseling a Priest and a Family Through Tragedy

Fr. Makarios had to manage an unthinkable crisis: a young man from his Florida parish, under the influence of drugs was arrested and sentenced for the attempted murder of his own father. The tragedy rippled throughout his parish, damaging the sense of community that Fr. Makarios had been working to foster in his church. He felt unprepared to guide his parish through such an extreme, unusual situation. Seeking the wisdom of experience,…

Seeing Our Lord Face to Face

On July 31, 2022, the Sunday after the feast of St. Silas, the patron saint of prisoners, hundreds of Orthodox churches in the United States from all jurisdictions recognized Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday in a national effort to better serve our incarcerated brothers and sisters in Christ. Different parishes came up with different ways to increase awareness in their communities, listening to testimonials from prisoners who have come to the Orthodox Church,…

The Ministry of Spreading Awareness

“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at…

Johnny’s Long Walk Home

Johnny was in the prison library, looking for answers to his deepest spiritual questions, when he overheard a conversation two tables over. An Orthodox prisoner named Jesse was talking about the early Church. Johnny moved close enough to eavesdrop, an uncomfortable, even dangerous thing to do in prison. Johnny started asking him questions, which led to Johnny writing to OCPM, learning the Faith through his correspondence with Fr. Duane Pederson and Zossima…

#AscendingTogether Part 3: Dn. Seraphim, Volunteer Prison Chaplain

When Deacon Seraphim Blackstock began visiting men in a Florida prison, he started out, in his own words, “very arrogant”. “I went into the prisons with the idea I was helping these guys. They’re felons. They’ve committed horrible crimes. I’m doing them a big favor.” Dn. Seraphim would soon find out that there was much these men in prison could do to help him too. Most Christian prison chaplains start by teaching…