PJM Newsletter
 July/August 2020
Dear Volunteers and Friends,

I hope and pray this finds you happy and well during these strange and uncertain times. We are all anxious to begin serving inside our facilities. I am hopeful that one day soon, we will be with our incarcerated brothers and sisters. Until that time, we will remain in communication with all our facilities and their chaplains. We will be sure incarcerated men and women continue to receive the resources needed to help them grow in their faith while they are unable to receive the sacraments.

At this time, I do not know when we will be able to begin services. I will be in contact with all program volunteers weekly to inform you of the status of your services. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

When we resume services, I anticipate there will be new procedures we will be required to follow. These new procedures will be communicated to all volunteers prior to resuming services.

For current information on the Michigan Department of Corrections response to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our Michigan Correctional Facilities, click here .There have been 3,982 prisoner confirmed cases and 68 prisoner deaths from COVID-19. In addition, there have been two corrections staff who have lost their lives to the coronavirus. Currently, we have four confirmed prisoner cases within the seven prisons located in the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Those cases were in the Dormitory at Bellamy Creek, Ionia Correctional and Michigan Reformatory.

Weekly Rosary for the Incarcerated during COVID-19
We continue to pray a weekly rosary for our incarcerated brothers and sisters and their families during this pandemic. We pray our rosary Friday mornings at 7 a.m., but pray yours at a time that works well for you. If you have particular intentions you would like us to pray for, please send us those by Thursday afternoon and we will be sure to include those in our weekly rosary. You will continue to receive email reminders to pray with us Friday mornings which include our weekly intentions. You may also follow our Facebook Page to receive these and other important information.

Ministry Informational Sessions
On Tuesday, June 23, we hosted two informational sessions at Cathedral Square Center. Thirteen individuals attended the afternoon session while nine attended the evening session. Of those who attended, ten are in the permanent diaconate program. As part of their formation, they will have the opportunity to learn about this ministry, visit a facility and discern if they would like to become active program volunteers. Of those who were in the previous cohort, three have now become program volunteers. Please keep all those who attended these sessions in your prayers as they now discern their service to this ministry.

Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision
On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law in the Civil Rights Act that bans discrimination on the basis of “sex” also applies to “sexual orientation” and “transgender” status. Unjust discrimination against anyone is wrong. All persons have inviolable dignity and deserve love and respect.

This decision may be an attempt to address that, but instead it harms the common good. In effect, it legally redefines human sexual identities to no longer mean man and woman – who are made for each other and form the foundation of the family – and requires people to honor one another’s asserted gender identities and sexual conduct. Definitions matter. Effectively redefining human sexuality in civil law furthers no one’s rights. Affirming the true definition of “sex” denies no one their basic rights as a human being. Rather, it affirms the equal dignity of women and men in society and under law. The Court’s decision to redefine human sexuality under the Civil Rights Act will likely change numerous other laws. It places the Church’s teaching, witness, ministries, and service organizations – who serve everyone but must do so in accord with the truth – in opposition to the law. It will cause further conflicts between the state and religious institutions and individuals.

The faithful are encouraged to stay engaged with policymakers on these matters to help advance just outcomes.

  • You can read the recent statement by Archbishop Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) here
  • Please review this bulletin insert from the USCCB for your use in talking with the incarcerated and other parishioners.

Newsletter Emails
Please take caution when viewing our Newsletter via a tablet or smart phone, that you do not 'unsubscribe' to our emails. While 'swiping' with your finger to view the newsletter, it is easy to hit the 'unsubscribe' button on the bottom of the page. When this is happens, you will no longer receive newsletters or email blasts from the ministry. If you find you are no longer receiving emails from us, please contact our office. We will send you a 'resubscribe' email. After we receive confirmation from you stating you accept it, you can be added back to the contact list.

Please remember to read this newsletter completely. Important information and resources are included in the team updates and newsletter inserts.

Peace and be well,

Tricia Worrell
Director, Prison and Jail Ministry

Team Schedules                        
Ionia Team
Chaplain Eric Wilber is the new institutional chaplain at the Reformatory. If you see Chaplain Wilber, please welcome him and introduce yourself. We look forward to serving with Chaplain Wilber to help meet the spiritual needs of the Catholic population at the Reformatory.

Kent County Team
Though we are unable to go into the facilities at this time, I am looking forward to meeting with Chaplain Jason and/or Sarah in the near future to get the lay of the land. My clearance is in process as well so that I will be able to serve in the facilities with all of you. I hope to be able to give you a good update soon! Please feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, or prayer intentions as we await returning fully to ministry with hopeful anticipation. - Martha

Below is the Kent County Bible Request Form. Use this when an inmate lets
you know they have a release date and would like a Bible. Have them fill this
out and we will mail a Bible directly to their home address. 

Muskegon Team
The men who attend our Catholic service at Muskegon Correctional would like to begin a Bible Study. This service has been approved by the chaplain. If you are interested and able to help lead this once or twice a month on Thursday evenings, please contact Tricia at tworrell@grdiocese.org or 616-475-1255.
Ottawa Team
Our new program assistant, Martha Bellamy is currently being cleared at Ottawa Juvy and will help lead services when they resume. She will also become the team scheduler for the Juvy Detention Center. When you have a moment, please introduce yourself to Martha. Martha can be reached at: mbellamy@grdiocese.org or 616-246-0492.

Below is the Ottawa County Bible Request Form. Use this when an inmate lets
you know they have a release date and would like a Bible. Have them fill this
out and we will mail a Bible directly to their home address. 

Resources for Juvenile Detention Centers
Communion Service Sheets
Need help with reflection time resources?
Check out the websites below.