August Challenge: Visit the Prisoner

What: Visit the Prisoner


Throughout the month of August we are reminded of our call to visit the prisoner through the feasts of three well known Saints who were imprisoned for their faith.

August 1st, we commemorate the feast of St. Peter in Chains which scripture tells us is when an angel appeared to St. Peter while in prison, loosed his chains, and helped him to escape.

August 14th, we mark the feast of St. Maximillian Kolbe who was imprisoned and killed in the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz. Fr. Kolbe offered to take the place of a man who had a family among prisoners selected to die by starvation. After two weeks, Kolbe, the remaining living prisoner was killed by a lethal injection. He was killed Aug. 14th and his body was cremated on Aug. 15th - the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother. Because of the way in which he was killed, he is not only the Patron Saint of prisoners but also addicts - another form of imprisonment. His love for Our Lady manifested itself through his formation of the Militia Immaculata (The Army of the Immaculate One) - a means of evangelizing. August also coincides with the month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

August 29th, is the feast of the beheading of St. John the Baptist. This day recalls when John, imprisoned for condemning King Herod's adulteress relationship with his brother's wife, was killed. King Herod, having promised his step-daughter anything she wished, was asked for John the Baptist's head on a platter. Scripture tells us that John's disciples, upon hearing of his death came to claim his body and lay it in a tomb.

To visit the prisoner is one of the seven Corporal Works of Mercy, which the Catechism teaches us are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Through these small acts done with great love, we can build a Civilization of Love.

We may not traditionally think of other forms of imprisonment such as slavery, human trafficking, prostitution, and addiction, but these too are forms of imprisonment. When we begin to think more broadly of the ways in which we are imprisoned by things that our culture promotes as "freedom", we can begin to find even more means of "visiting the prisoner". Helping prevent someone from a form of imprisonment could also fall into this month's challenge. For example, we often associated St. Nicholas with Christmas gifts, but he is the Patron Saint of prostitutes because he "gifted" the financial needs of two young girls who could then marry instead of being sold into prostitution. 

In our modern technological world, we may find ourselves or even our children to be unwittingly addicted to different forms of technology (e.g. social media, television) such that it is negatively impacting our freedom to truly flourish or the flourishing of those under our care. What can we do to end our own slavery/imprisonment to technology and/or prevent our children from becoming addicted to devices?


Pick your CHALLENGE:



Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

  • Plan an in-person or video visit with someone living at your nearest prison. (Check out this information provided by the MN Department of Corrections.)
  • Become a prison chaplain and/or Eucharistic Minister
  • Offer employment/apprenticeships to those who have been recently incarcerated
  • Get connect with the Twin Cities Prison Ministry
    • Learn more about how you can support any of these prison ministries which partner with Twin Cities Prison Ministry:
      • Angel Tree - Providing Christmas gifts to children of those who are incarcerated
      • Birthday Card Ministry - Sending cards to inmates on their birthdays
      • Prayer Companions - Sign up to pray for needs that will be emailed to you
      • Pen Pals for Prisoners - Write a monthly letter to an inmate for 1 year (or longer)
      • Holiday Letter Ministry - Send letters/cards to inmates for Christmas, Easter, and Birthdays
      • Mentoring - Become a mentor for a person who is reentering community life
      • Life Rebuilders - Sober transitional housing
      • VERUS Community - Small group recovery meetings
      • Greater Twin Cities-Residents Encounter Christ - two-day retreats for prison residents
      • Charis of Minnesota - A non-denominational Christian ministry, made up of teams of laity and clergy who have experienced a Cursillo-type retreat. Team members are selected and trained under the guidance of Charis leadership and approved by correctional institutions. The residents of correctional institutions are given the opportunity to experience spiritual renewal and to accept God’s call to live a life of Christian witness and service to one another during their stay in the institution and beyond.
      • Ignatian Videos - Assist in the production, reading, etc. of weekly 30-minute videos based on the Scripture reading of the week.
      • Fish - Families and friends of the incarcerated support and hope group. Meet monthly in a sacred space created for and by families, caregivers and friends of the
        incarcerated to find common ground, support and hope in God’s love.
  • Set up parental controls on electronic devices
  • Check out the resources provided by Live More Screen Less
  • Install Covenant Eyes software on your devices
  • Connect with ministries such as Breaking Free which help people to escape the life of prostitution
  • Learn more about efforts in Minnesota to combat human trafficking and exploitation through the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force

Set your GOAL: 

You can choose one of the suggestions above, or come up with your own. Then, depending on your challenge, you will want to set yourself a practical goal - whether it be material, financial, or spiritual.  Some examples include:

  • Get 50 people at your parish to join in making birthday cards, or writing letters for Christmas and Easter
  • Get two other friends to join you in becoming pen pals for prisoners
  • Become a mentor for one person who is leaving prison
  • Plan a weekly one-hour visit to someone who has not had visitors for a long time
  • Fundraise $1,000 to go towards Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated parents
  • Bring on three employees who've been recently incarcerated

Determine your AUDIENCE:

Who do you want to join you in your monthly challenge? 

  • Just yourself! 
  • Your family and friends
  • Your parish
  • Your social media friends
  • Or whomever you want! 


Once you know what you are going to do, click "Share" to tell us your idea! We encourage you to upload a picture of how you're building a civilization of love to help inspire others to take action too!


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