April 26, 2019

Corrections Corner / Deacon Marc Kellams

Corrections ministry aims to bring Christ to those in prison

Deacon Marc KellamsWelcome to “Corrections Corner.” As the new coordinator of Corrections Ministry for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, I am pleased to kick off this new monthly column with a brief explanation of who we are and what we do. Each month, I will address a different topic of interest in our ministry.

The Corrections Ministry Office was established under the direction of Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin in 2016. A task force was created, and with the able assistance of our first coordinator Lynne Weisenbach and grant funding from longtime prison ministry volunteers Teresa and Bernie Batto, the office got off to a running start. After the office was operating as intended, Lynn decided it was time for her to move on and turn the office over to someone who would continue the good work she had begun.

I retired at the end of 2018 as a criminal court judge in the Monroe Circuit Court after 40 years of judicial service, and although I started “very part time” on July 1, 2018, I didn’t really begin as coordinator until January. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity and hope that my experience with the criminal justice system will be an asset as I learn my way around the world of corrections.

I was ordained a permanent deacon in June of 2008 and have been serving since at my home parish of St. Charles Borromeo in Bloomington. My goal is to blend my ministry as a deacon and my experience in criminal law to fulfill the mandate given to me, and to all of us, to serve as Matthew instructs, “When I was in prison you visited me” (Mt 25:36).

I work with a committee of 10 men and women dedicated to bringing Christ to those who are incarcerated. They, along with more than 120 volunteers, participate in some aspect of corrections ministry.

Many of these faithful volunteers enter the various penal facilities for regular visits and Communion services. Priests celebrate Mass, hear confessions and anoint those who are sick. There is catechesis of Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and Bible study. Often, there is counseling and prayer.

This office will be planning regular training sessions for volunteers to help them understand the rules of the various correctional institutions, and to be informed of how the Church teaches us to be good missionaries. We help facilitate transportation to families for visits, and hope to soon expand our efforts to provide mentoring for those released from prison upon re-entry into society.

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson is enthusiastically supporting this ministry, and to date he has visited seven of the 10 state and federal correctional facilities. His goal is to visit them all and then start the rotation all over. We are grateful for his support.

We are busy continuing to develop this ministry. There is much work left to do. I look forward to being of assistance to any of you and to hearing from you if you have any helpful advice. Feel free to contact me at mkellams@archindy.org or call 317-592-4012. †

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