Talk on Prison Ministry
By Deacon Darrell Moulton

        Darrell Moulton has been a permanent deacon for 16 years. One of his previous assignments was to Mary Queen Church in Friendswood. He was later reassigned to the archdioceses Prison Ministry, which he talked about, below.

        Father Ron Cloutier is the director of the Office of Correctional Ministries (Prison Ministries). Darrell is the Assistant Director. Monsignor Paul Procella, who is featured on our Website, works with Darrell in prison ministry.

        Every Catholic has a mission, Darrell said. Every one of us has to carry out Jesus’ teaching, which is to love one another and ourselves—to love in the way Jesus loves us. Jesus also teaches us to live for the moment—to do what the lord calls us to do during various times in our life.

        In one part of his career, Darrell worked at Covenant House. Then, because of the shortage of Catholic ministers, he was offered the chance to join the prison ministry. Darrell at first resisted the call, but finally agreed to 'do it' after a priest asked him, What is your excuse now? He then left the children at Covenant House and started work in the prisons.

        Prison work is challenging and can be dangerous because of the types of people a minister has to deal with. Here are the prison facts.

  • As of August 2005 there were 152,213 in state prisons and city jails.
  • The average length of a prison sentence is 19.6 yrs
  • The downtown Houston jail holds between 9,000 and 10,000 inmates, of which 50% are estimated to be Catholic. There are 16,000 total number of offenders locked up in downtown Houston, which represents a combination of the city, county, state and federal facilities that house offenders downtown.
  • Thirty-percent are in the 20-29 median age group. Some are as young ad 14.
  • By race, 31% are white, 35% are black, and 29% are Hispanic
  • In 2005, 69,000 were released from prison
  • Also in 2005, 16.000 were released from local jails
  • Those being supervised under parole, probation and other forms of community supervision—430,000.

        What has been going on with Prison Ministries?

        In the 26 facilities in the archdiocese, in the first 6 months of 2006, 315 Masses were celebrated and 437 Communion Services were held. (In the jails, individual cell-to-cell communion is distributed.) There were also 204 classes in Bible studies.

        Two hundred thirty-one RCIA classes were held. These classes are the same as those held in the parishes. There were also 400 different devotions held.

        Darrell noted that more could be done. Of the more than 300 priests in the archdiocese, only 44 are on call for prison work. Of these only 12 or 13 are active. The Harris County Jail and Federal facility have two priests assigned.

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