In 2010, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Detroit became involved with ministry to incarcerated Adults and Youth. The Justice Initiative of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a recent collaborative between the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Society. In 2010, all criminal justice ministry administration was transitioned from the Archdiocese of Detroit to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul - Detroit.
Our Justice Initiative reaches out with hope to the incarcerated – both while they are inside and once they are released. We minister to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs with mentoring, pastoral services, caring visits, food, clothing and any other form of support we can provide to enable them to effectively transition into society. Currently, around 200 volunteers minister to approximately 300 inmates in nineteen correction facilities.
What do we do
Inside the facilities our volunteers work with groups of prisoners or visit one-on-one with an inmate. Our mentors provide care and support through Christian books, devotional materials and literature they supply and the Scripture study, and worship services they provide.
Of the 19 facilities where we minister, at least six house juveniles. At two of these juvenile facilities our volunteers conduct prayer services. At the rest of these youth facilities, individuals who have been through mentoring training, mentor the youth one on one. The mentor-student duos meet in a large area surrounded by other mentor-student twosomes. This mentoring is all about instilling basic core values in a one-on-one situation. This helps the mentor and youth to develop a relationship. Mentoring training always continues, as mentors can always use more ideas and we can always use mentors.
Outside the facility through the local conferences of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul we provide “day one” support for returning inmates and continuing support – food, clothing, house wares. The Society is a nation-wide organization – so if an inmate returns to another city or state we can still help them through local St. Vincent de Paul conferences. The Society also has programs that can provide job training and placement, housing stipends and low cost vehicles.
In our visits we:
Affirm them by our presence – show them that they are worthy of our time and attention.
Listen to their story – without judging or admonishing them.
Support them in prayer – in their struggle with their surroundings.
The best thing we can do for them is to be there!
Everything we do is about them – not us.
To contact a member of the Justice Initiative, please call 855-8-SVDPJI (855-878-3754).
Visit the Justice Initiative website at http://svdpji.org/.
In the News
‘I was in prison and you came to me’
Service to the incarcerated is a tradition of the Vincentian Family beginning with St. Vincent de Paul. "For I was... in prison and you visited me." Matt 25:26
Fr. Jose' Maria Roman, CM writes:
"Vincent de Paul began to visit the galley slaves in Paris in 1618. That same heart which had been touched by the spiritual abandonment and the physical hunger of the peasants of Chatillon and on the de Gondi estates now shuddered at the sight of this untold misery.
Talking to his spiritual daughters forty years later, he could still remember hwo he felt at that time. 'What happiness, my Daughters, to serve these poor prisoners left abandoned in the hands of men who show them no pity. I have seen these poor people treated liek animals and their sufferings moved God to show compassion for them."
Recommendations for Conferences and interested Volunteers
The best place to begin in all things is with prayer and reflecting on the Gospel.
Are you being called to this ministry as a Conference?
Are you being called to this ministry as an individual?
The work we do at St. Vincent de Paul Detroit depends largely on our Vincentians and volunteers. Be a part of something great! Become a Vincentian today!
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul - Detroit
3000 Gratiot Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48207
Toll Free: 1-877-ST VINCE(1-877-788-4623)
Copyright © 2013 St. Vincent de Paul. All Rights Reserved.