Prison & Jail Ministry

Prison and Jail Ministry has been offered by the Diocese of Grand Rapids for over 40 years. Currently, the ministry serves 21 correctional facilities throughout our 11 counties. These correctional facilities include jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers. This ministry has over 150 active priests, deacons and volunteers who bring messages of hope to those affected by incarceration within our diocese. They bring these messages of hope through prayer, holy Communion, Bible study and the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

In addition to our programs within our facilities, Prison and Jail Ministry recently developed a new re-entry outreach ministry, GROW (Guiding Returning Citizens to Our World), for people returning from incarceration. GROW will help break the cycle of recidivism by educating parish communities on the spiritual needs and concerns of returned citizens and their families. GROW helps create welcoming faith communities through building awareness and relationships. Are you interested in joining our ministry? Please contact us at 616-475-1255.

Bishop Walkowiak to preside at
Annual Ecumenical Prayer Service

Join us Monday, Nov. 22 at 6:30 p.m. for an evening of prayer during Restorative Justice Week, Nov. 22 – 28. Bishop David Walkowiak will preside at our annual ecumenical Restoring, Reconciling and Healing Prayer Service for:
  • incarcerated individuals and their families
  • prison and jail volunteers and chaplains
  • employees of correctional facilities
  • associations that offer assistance to our prisons & jails
  • victims of crimes and their families
Pray with us as we prepare to introduce new restorative strategies to our legislature. We pray these new strategies which include victim/offender dialogue will be converted by our policy makers into statutory authority. These statutes will then allow stakeholders in our Criminal Justice system to universally implement restorative practices at all states of the justice process. For more information click here.

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner with James Wahlberg

Save the date for our 4th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on Monday, February 7 at 6:30 p.m. I am excited to share our guest speaker will be James Wahlberg! James is the executive director of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation and has been working in and around the field of addiction recovery, for nearly 30 years. Jim’s personal experiences with recovery and commitment to his faith, led him to create a number of short films on the topic of addiction, including the recently released “What About the Kids” and the critically acclaimed “If Only” that has been shown to hundreds of thousands of people nationwide in venues ranging in size from classrooms to arenas. He recently released his memoir, The Big Hustle – A Boston Street Kid’s Story of Addiction and Redemption. The Spirit continues to guide Jim in his journey of recovery and to help others find hope in an often seemingly hopeless situation. He and his family are active members of St. Bernadette Parish in Hollywood, Florida.

Assembly 2021: Grow

Catholics across the diocese are invited to participate in Diocesan Assembly 2021: Grow from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 at Cathedral Square Center, 360 Division Ave. S. The second in a three-year series of events, the conference will be offered in person and online.
Last year’s assembly focused on becoming aware of and deepening our personal relationship with God. Diocesan Assembly 2021 will teach us how to grow and mature as disciples by reflecting on practical aspects of growth in holiness. Click hereto learn more and to register.

Christmas Drive 2021

Although it is only August, we are beginning to prepare for our annual Christmas Drive. This year, we will collect travel size body wash, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizing lotion and chapstick. We will not collect socks or reading glasses. The donations were so large last year, we have enough socks and glasses to donate and place in this year’s Christmas packages. Please share our Christmas Drive Flyer with your friends, family and parish staff as appropriate. If you would like printed copies, contact me and I will be happy to mail them to you. Please deliver all donations to Cathedral Square no later than Friday, December 10.

Program Effectiveness Survey

In an effort to improve our ministry, we invite each of you, chaplains, program volunteers, returned citizens and friends of the ministry to complete this brief Program Effectiveness Survey for the Prison and Jail Ministry by Friday, Sept. 3. Your feedback is valuable and will help us better serve our incarcerated brothers and sisters while in prison and upon their return from incarceration.

Michigan Restorative Justice Council

The recently formed Michigan Restorative Justice Council (MRJC) continues to be the focus of the majority of our work in recent months. This council is an initiative of the 3rd annual West Michigan Restorative Justice Conference hosted and sponsored by us in 2019. This council is comprised of judges, lawyers, parole and probation officers, religious leaders, experts in restorative justice, elected officials, victims of crime and returned citizens. The council has researched restorative practices within Michigan and throughout our country. We have developed broad victim/offender mediation strategies that we hope will be converted by policy makers into statutory authority. This will allow stakeholders in the criminal justice system to universally implement victim/offender mediation at the various states of our criminal justice process.