Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday 2023

Thursday, July 20, 2023

July 30, 2023
Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday

“‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” (Luke 15:31-32)

To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Pious Faithful of our Holy Orthodox Church in the United States:

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings and blessings to you all!

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America has blessed Sunday, July 30, 2023, the feast of St. Silas, the patron saint of prison ministry, as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday.

In Christ’s moving parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), we often identify with the son who has run away from his father to spoil his inheritance. And it is right that we see ourselves in him, for who of us hasn’t once traded God’s infinite blessings for some passing consolation of the world?

Yet, so often, we Orthodox Christians also behave as the older brother. He remained faithful to the father, staying in his house. But when his younger brother returns, we see the true state of his heart: resentment and self-justification.

Though we are repeatedly admonished by Christ not to judge others, there is no community easier to judge than those who have been condemned to a prison sentence. Can we learn to welcome these fellow sinners into our Church communities? Can we take joy in their return to the father’s house? Can we learn to see those in prison as our brothers and sisters on their way to the Father?

As the Episcopal Liaison to Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM), I place a challenge to you, our faithful in America, and respectfully request that you observe this day of awareness and support Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry. Open your hearts to God’s children behind bars. Prepare the fatted calf.

Volunteering with and supporting Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry allows our Church to:

  • Provide personalized spiritual care for Orthodox and inquiring men and women in prison through case managers and clergy visitation
  • Assist with re-entry for those released from prison back into trained and equipped church communities
  • Catechize people in the Orthodox faith and provide them with Bibles, spiritual books, icons, and study courses
  • Train Orthodox priests and laypersons to visit and counsel those in prison
  • Advocate for correctional facilities around the country to recognize the Orthodox Faith and allow inmates to meet for Holy Liturgical services and to receive the Sacraments.

With much love and thanks in the boundless mercy of Our Lord,

†Archbishop Mark
Episcopal Liaison to Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry