The Fort Collins Catholic Jail Ministry provided by Saint Joseph and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton parishes is a unique, wonderful and very rewarding ministry. We received 10 nominations and three awards from the Larimer County Jail at the annual volunteer appreciation ceremony this year! We are thrilled that Pope Francis emphasizes caring for the incarcerated and thankful for the revival of volunteer interest.
There are several ways to get involved. Volunteers can be part of a Bible study on Monday afternoons. We also offer Communion services to separate groups of men and women on Tuesday evenings, one-on-one listening and sharing of the Faith on Tuesday and Thursday evenings as well as a separate Mass for the men and women one Saturday morning a month. We particularly need guitarists to pick up an occasional set of Tuesday night or Saturday services. Inmates are uplifted by the music and you don’t have to be perfect.
The jail ministry is unique in that we minister to Catholic and non-Catholic inmates. We are working with a different type of people whose actions can be unpredictable at times. Some have many convictions, some are first time offenders, some are drug addicts, some have mental health problems, and some use the jail as a place for shelter and to get three meals a day. Some inmates are a combination of two or more of these. The jail requires clearance to get in and once you walk in, it takes clearance to get out. The closing and the locking of doors going into and traveling between different sections is a different sound. To some it is nothing. To others, it is eerie or unnerving. Most volunteers are either not bothered by the sound or get used to the sound after a few visits. Unexpected lockdowns can delay or curtail services.
Training: The jail provides mandatory training to help volunteers deal with unexpected situations. Deacon Greg Reynolds provides additional training prior to going to the jail and on-the-job training in which you will be accompanied by those who are doing Bible study, Communion service, a one-on-one visit, or celebrating Mass. To become a volunteer, you must go through a background check by the Larimer County Sheriff Office.
You will need to speak with Deacon Greg for a preliminary interview to get a full understanding of the ministry. If you are a good match for the jail ministry, you will need to complete and return to Deacon Greg the volunteer application/statement. Deacon Greg will turn the form in to the volunteer coordinator at the sheriff’s office for approval.
Once you are approved, you may visit the jail three times before taking the required Sheriff’s office orientation class, which is an all-day class, usually on Sundays. Classes resume February 2016. During these three preliminary visits you must be with a volunteer at all times. Once you have taken the class, you may visit approved areas.
Thank you for your interest in the Jail Ministry!
Sincerely in Jesus Christ,
Deacon Greg Reynolds
Coordinator, Jail Ministry Program