Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners

Prisoners are the most forgotten people in society
and the least served in Christianity.
For all our sakes, I’d like to change that.  —Joan Chittister

More than two million U.S. adults are currently in prison. That's nearly 1% of the entire U.S. population — almost one in every 100 of us — who will spend our lives behind bars. Thanks to your efforts, the Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners is the only help toward a meaningful life that many of these prisoners ever receive.

Your gift will impact the lives of those in prison through:
•  Free Spiritual Materials
•  Forming Spiritual Communities
•  Prison & Halfway House Retreats

Sister Joan and women who received materials from the Fund for Prisoners while incarcerated.
Sister Joan and women who received materials from the Fund for Prisoners while incarcerated.
Sanctuario de San Pedro Claver Cartagena Colombia

Dear Sister Joan,
I'm writing to thank you for providing me with your most welcome blessing,The Monastic Way, filled with pure wisdom and positive ideas. Every morning when I wake up I take a good deep look into what the quote has to say for the day. In fact, I write to my wife and kids about what I have read and the way I understood your words. My family and I have gained much insight into the monthly topics/themes you offer. I sign off with nothing but love and respect. —Jesu R.

 Free Spiritual Materials

Susan is just one of hundreds of prisoners whose lives have been transformed through the Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners. Your support of the Fund for Prisoners since 2009 has enabled us to send over $400,000 worth of spiritual publications by Joan Chittiser free to those in prison to begin the kind of caring conversations that give people something to believe in and a sense of the presence of God in themselves. We work closely with a network of 90 prison chaplains and volunteers to insure that materials reach those in prison and are used effectively—in small discussion groups, retreats, journal classes, and for individual reflection and prayer.

The Monastic Way, a monthly publication by Joan Chittiser, has become a staple of spiritual development in prisons from one end of this country to the other. Over 3,000 free subscriptions are mailed each month and prisons and prisoners everywhere are still begging for more. Prisoners write of their dependence on this little piece of beauty and reflection to stir their hearts and seed their souls.

The Joan Chittister Journal is the most requested item—over 50,000 have been sent to individual prisoners. With striking full-color photographs, comforting and challenging words by Joan Chittister and lots of writing room, the Journals provide a space where prisoners can pour out personal feelings, wrestle with private struggles, and trace their journeys to a healthier and more meaningful life.

The Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners is supported solely on individual donations.

So many are asking for Joan Chittister’s healing words. Only you can deliver them.

 Forming Spiritual Communities

The Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners also collaborates with Monasteries of the Heart and its effort to form small “monastic” communities in prison. Currently there are 12 such communities trying to implement values from the Rule of Saint Benedict into prison life.

By introducing the Benedictine concepts of stability, community, prayer, silence, conversion of life and nonviolence into the lives of prisoners, the thought of meaningless routine, uncomfortable schedules, random violence, and obedience could be transformed into sacred awareness; silence and the developmental effect of stability of place could result in self-knowledge and interior development. More than that, this program does what we all say we want to have happen in the penal system. It presents another way to live, another reason to be alive, another kind of human heart to strive for, and another vision of rehabilitation.

Ten percent of all donations received to the Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners are designated to forming monastic communities in prisons and the Fund supplies all necessary spiritual materials, including the basic formation book, The Monastery of the Heart by Joan Chittister.

You can help a prisoner find faith in themselves.

 Prison & Halfway House Retreats

The Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners and Monasteries of the Heart are in the process of initiating retreat programs for those in prison and in half-way houses. In winter 2015, a retreat was held for 93 prisoners and staff at Ohio Reformatory for Women using the book, Scarred by Struggle by Joan Chittister. In the fall another retreat will be held with the intent of forming Monasteries of the Heart communities there. In addition to supplying staff, the Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners supplies the materials.

You can free a prisoner locked in fear and darkness.
Prison ministers Barbara and Jane
Prison ministers Barbara and Jane
Prison ministry liaison Sister Roseanne and prison minister Jackie
Prison ministry liaison Sister Roseanne and prison minister Jackie

Why your gift matters

On Christmas morning, I was able to place a calendar in the hands of every inmate who attended Christmas services. I asked them to close their eyes and consider how they might bless one another during Christmas week, and as they were reflecting, I placed a calendar in their hands. You cannot imagine the pure joy when they opened their eyes and beheld the blessing that had come to them!
Many of the men and women we see spend years in jail with very little to uplift them or nourish their souls - so you can imagine that everything we are allowed to give them is cherished. Thank you so much for everything. —S. R., prison chaplain

I received The Monastic Way from the chaplain of the prison where I am incarcerated. It was very thought provoking and uplifting. I am trying to use this time to grow spiritually and found your publication very enlightening. —Hannah

I’m 21-years-old and currently in prison – one of the older women who is looking out for me gave me a copy of The Monastic Way – she told me it saved her life in here. Now I receive my own copy and it has become a daily read for me. I enjoy it so much. It brought knowledge, hope and awareness that I was still a good person despite the big mistakes I have made. Maybe even I can change with your help. —L.D.

Are you a prison chaplain or volunteer? Contact us for information on receiving free spirituality materials for your ministry.

Prison Liaisons:
Sister Rosanne Lindal-Hynes or Sister Mary Ellen Plumb

Call: 814-459-9224 OR Click to Email

As part of the Fund for Prisoners outreach, 90 women at the Ohio Reformatory for Women participated in an all-day retreat led by Sister Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski that included videos by Joan Chittister on the challenges and gifts of struggle.
As part of the Fund for Prisoners outreach, 90 women at the Ohio Reformatory for Women participated in an all-day retreat led by Sister Carolyn Gorny-Kopkowski that included videos by Joan Chittister on the challenges and gifts of struggle.
Prison ministers at a 2014 Monasteries of the Heart workshop in California.
Prison ministers at a 2014 Monasteries of the Heart workshop in California.