Criminal Justice Ministry Program Volunteer Needs and Opportunities
Providing spiritual formation within correctional facilities
Catholic priests are needed to enter correctional facilities to celebrate Mass, hear confessions and confer the sacraments. Deacons and lay volunteers can conduct Communion services, Scripture study, RCIA, catechetical and other faith formation programs at correctional facilities.
If you would like to initiate a new program in a correctional facility, you should contact both the chaplaincy department of that facility and the diocesan Office of Criminal Justice Ministry.
If you would like to join an existing ministry team that is conducting one or more programs in a correctional facility, you should contact the volunteer program coordinator of that facility. Visit our Unit Schedule of Catholic Service Programs website page to see a schedule of programs currently being conducted in correctional facilities in our diocese, along with the respective program coordinators, or contact the Office of the Criminal Justice Ministry for assistance. Also visit our Volunteer with TDCJ website page for information on serving as a volunteer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Whether you are a new or experienced volunteer, you will find information and resources in our Volunteer Resource Guide that will assist you and answer important questions you may have about serving in the Catholic Criminal Justice Ministry in the Diocese of Austin.
Providing support to family members of the incarcerated
Catholic volunteers can assist the families of the incarcerated by providing material assistance when income is lost because of the incarceration, mentoring the children of incarcerated parents and by providing counseling and support through Catholic social ministry programs or other agencies.
Providing support to ex-offenders and their families
The need for pastoral and other support does not end at the termination of an offender’s period of incarceration. Parishes should be proactive in reaching out to the formerly incarcerated and their families to encourage these individuals’ presence and participation in their faith communities.
In addition, Catholic social ministries can play a key role by assisting formerly incarcerated individuals in meeting basic needs upon their release, such as food, medical, housing, clothing, transportation and employment. By doing so, the likelihood of their successful reentry and reintegration into society is substantially increased.
Promoting change in the criminal justice system
Finally, there is a need of reform in the culture of the criminal justice system from a primary focus on punishment to that of treatment or rehabilitation. Nearly all inmates will return to society. By providing positive pathways for change and improvement in their lives and for their families, public safety can be improved and crime reduced.