Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the authors' and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members. On August 5, 2021, we archived old blog posts. You can find the archive by clicking here.
One Catholic Sister’s Prison Pen Pal Ministry
The Sisters of St. Agnes respond to the needs of God’s creation with contemplative, compassionate, courageous, and caring hearts. They further believe that humans are created in God’s image, deserving inherent dignity and worth. These beliefs and values guided Sister Kathleen Delaspina to initiate a prison pen pal ministry after retirement, amidst the 2020 pandemic.
Sister Kathleen’s ministry started through Wire of Hope, an online resource that connects incarcerated people with volunteer pen pals from all over the world for a meaningful experience. Their website states: “The power of a prison correspondence is often underrated, yet studies show that an incarcerated person with connections to the outside world, such as pen pals, will be six times less likely to reoffend within the first year of their release.”
Sister Kathleen started her pen pal ministry to be a joyous witness as a Sister of CSA. She shares, “The inmates I write to all know I am a Catholic nun. This project enriches the incarcerated concerned that their dignity is threatened.” Sister Kathleen has received 300 prison pen pal letters and continues to write those who have responded to her initial contact.
She continues, “A person recently released is doing well with a job, counseling, and church attendance. Another is living a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He is motivated and grateful. He maintains a positive outlook, has gratitude and stays positive. He converted to Catholicism. I write to encourage and support, reminding the individuals they matter. There are some without family support or contacts. When they prepare for release, I research places that help with possible housing and living options.One prison pen pal is a published author who mentioned my name in the book dedication.”
Sister Kathleen has learned a lot about prison standards and restrictions and says, “I am grateful to the Lord. My life is enriched because of the prison pen pals.”
For anyone considering a prison pen pal ministry, Wire of Hope offers a list of tips for beginning correspondence with a prisoner and several other resources on their website. Please note that many inmates are seeking friendships, while others may be looking for more of an intimate relationship through this site. Be clear with your intentions when reviewing profiles and set boundaries when establishing a connection.