2021 Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners Appeal
We’re at the point, I’m sure, where hearing one more word about COVID is one word too many.
It smothered our lifestyles; it changed our lives. Fear danced around the edge of every day. All our days.
But you stayed with us through it all. When I was sure that we would not have the funds it takes to print and send The Monastic Way newsletter, the calendars, the journals that are important to our chaplains and the inmates, both men and women, you were there.
Never mind what I’m writing to you. Read the mail that comes to me from chaplains and volunteers and realize how important it is that you have stayed with us despite your own needs. You have given another whole population the awareness that they have not been left alone.
Add a person in prison to your Christmas list. For a donation of only $12 we will send a special Christmas gift, a one-year subscription to The Monastic Way, to a prisoner.
Click here to give
It’s the grace to read between the lines that demonstrates for us how important such small gifts can be.
RUBY: “As a volunteer and prison visitor for over twelve years I know how your Monastic Way publication is received with joy and anticipation by our detained friends. There is nothing for them but waiting, worrying and TV. The brochure offers them an alternative choice about their lives.”
When people have little or no hope for the future, the only useful gift is something that makes the present meaningful, and beautiful. Because without it, the only option is despair or mental breakdown. Thank you for making this gift of joy—if only for a few minutes a day.
BENJAMIN: “As you can imagine, inmates like to ‘count the days’ and so calendars are a precious commodity. Sister Joan’s are especially prized because of the beauty of the art work, the photography, and the uplifting messages.”
Only beauty can save an anguished soul from hopelessness. It is a reminder in dark and deadening circumstances that somewhere beauty still lives, still prods the soul to new life.
ELIZABETH: “Things are very different during the pandemic. No gatherings. Now, Catholic volunteers go cell to cell and take literature to offer. This prison is a maximum security, male prison.”
Stretching the mind is what enables people to plan for the future, to understand the present, to trust that new ideas can make even the darkest world new.
PEGGY: “We’ve all been under quarantine or lockdown conditions for over a year, having a journal for personal reflection has been a godsend.”
Sometimes the only person we have to tell our troubles to is that other part of us that our journals provide. We tell the journal who we are and who we want to be. Then, we take charge of our own lives when we cannot blame our attitudes and growth on anybody else. To give a gift that helps us find our way through stages of life that are strange and cold and distant can be the difference between the death and the life of a heart.
BARBARA: “The calendars are so welcomed… for their assistance in helping these dear women live one day at a time in very oppressive and sometimes hopeless situations….”
Only the person knows how much their souls need new ideas, new realizations. Any gift that re-energizes the heart builds the future and goes a long way toward healing the past.
JULIA: “In some ways these calendars are a lifeline to normalcy. With the pandemic, the women cannot leave the jail for any programs. … As we explored creative ways to connect with them, mailing in the calendars seemed to be a great idea.”
Listen to what these volunteers who work with these “saints of the closed life” learn. Your work is so important. Your generosity such an insight to us all. It’s not about charity. It’s about person-building.
Your participation in this spiritual outreach to our prisons is of the definition of what it means to follow Jesus. It is also a great act of civic responsibility.
But most of all, it is a testament to our care for each other—which is looking questionable right now if you measure it by those who are not willing to be vaccinated so that others are not infected.
But as the writer George Eliot wrote:
“What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for others.”
Thank you always for being part of the Fund for Prisoners for the past 15 years, for making the outreach real, for caring.
Without you, nothing.
Please, give what you are able to help this work continue. Remember, this fund supports our Monasteries of the Heart communities meeting in prisons.
In 2020, the Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoner distributed more than $70,000 in Monastic Way subscriptions and other materials to over 3,000 prisoners across the country.
The Monastic Way, Joan Chittister’s monthly reflection publication, is available FREE in digital form for individual subscribers. Monastic Ways are still printed and sent in bulk to our incarcerated sisters and brothers.