An OCPM visit to Pennsylvania Part One

by Niko Petrogeorge If someone approaches you with anger how do you respond? Last week, my colleague Fr. Stephen Powley and I visited SCI Waymart, a state prison in Pennsylvania. We made rounds with Fr. John Kowalczyk, an Orthodox priest and contract chaplain at SCI Waymart. At a certain point, we walked into a unit that had two or three day-rooms that shot off of a central control area. When we walked…

What is Life Like Behind Bars?

  We often forget that our Lord Jesus Christ was a prisoner, that he himself experienced the loneliness, isolation and restriction that is prison. Perhaps that is why He commanded us to visit prisoners (Matthew 25:36 – “I was in prison and you visited me.”) But what is prison like and how does a prisoner spend a typical day? Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry recently interviewed a former prisoner who converted to Orthodoxy…

She Tried Prison Ministry, Then She Got Hooked

Mary-Jo Dukas is an Orthodox Christian who is serious about whether she is fulfilling the Lord’s commandments. She went through Matthew 25:35-36 like it was a checklist and saw that the one thing that was missing was that she hadn’t visited someone in prison. “I really felt called to prison ministry, but I was afraid,” confesses Dukas, who lives in North Carolina. “But I called up the local women’s minimum-security prison and became a…

5 Facts About Prison and Religion That May Surprise You

For those of us living in freedom, it is all too easy to forget the more than two million men and women imprisoned in the US. Out of sight, out of mind. And yet, the United States has the highest prison population in the world. Chances are, you or someone you know has been touched by someone who has spent time behind bars. Prisoners have spiritual needs like any individual. Chaplains and…

Breaking Free From Prison

Christ is Risen! Every Pascha, Orthodox Christians around the world venerate the Paschal icon of the Lord storming hades and breaking the chains of death. That icon provides a visual reminder of a spiritual reality – something that has happened and continues to happen for everyone who sincerely repents and cries out to Christ for release. Here in this life now, even for those living their lives in prison, there is freedom…

Would you be ready to greet a released felon?

After serving six years in prison, Greg was a free man. But freedom did not mean that the “residue” of prison life was suddenly gone. He would need months, perhaps even years, to fully adjust to life on the outside. For one thing, he still felt deeply ashamed of the crime he had committed and desperately needed forgiveness and acceptance from God and society. While still experiencing the disorientation of his release,…

A Prisoner’s Attitude of Gratitude

by Fr. Luke A. Veronis  Fr. Luke A. Veronis and his wife Presbytera Faith have served Sts. Constantine and Helen Church since December 2004. Fr. Luke also serves as the Director for the Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity, which is located at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and teaches as an Adjunct Instructor at both Holy Cross and Hellenic College.   “You need an attitude of gratitude!” This was the response that an amazing…

Happy New Year from Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry!

Happy New Year! Despite the immense challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and a generally hectic 2020, your prayers and financial support allowed Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry to adapt and continue to minister to those who are incarcerated and their families. Fr. John Kowalczyk, Director of Field Education Studies at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, federal corrections chaplain, and OCPM board member said that the mantra many prison ministry volunteers adopted during the pandemic is “keep…

A Thanksgiving Message from Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, We would like to wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving! Amidst this difficult and challenging year, we still have so much for us to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season. Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry is forever thankful to all of our supporters, especially during this pandemic, ensuring that those…