Detention Ministry provides Catholic worship services and one-on-one spiritual counseling to people in prisons throughout the diocese. Priests, deacons, sisters, and volunteers carry out the work of the ministry.
Roughly 38,000 inmates live in prisons located in the Diocese of Tucson. It's a startling number, considering that most towns in the diocese have only a few thousand residents, if that.
But it's not just a number-it is thousands of men, women, and
youths who have lost their way in life. Many of them truly want spiritual guidance. They
also want to seek forgiveness to relieve the guilt they feel and begin or
re-establish their relationships with God.
CCS' Detention Ministry responds to these people by providing Catholic worship services and one-on-one spiritual counseling in prisons throughout the diocese.
Inmates benefit from this spiritual presence in their lives. They see that people care about them, and that they are not forgotten. They are lifted by the presence of people who treat them with dignity and respect, which helps them find worth in themselves and others. The faith they gain while in prison also helps them when they are released. “Studies have shown that inmates are less likely to return to prison if they are active in religious services while they are in prison,” said Barb Mattus, director of the program since 1993.
Roughly 75 volunteers conduct over 55 services a week in several prisons throughout the Diocese of Tucson-more than 2800 services during the year.
In most cases, the volunteers never see the fruits of their labors, but occasionally, they cross paths with a former inmate and learn how much their efforts meant.
When Mattus recently ran into a former inmate of Catalina Mountain School, the state's juvenile correctional facility for young men, she learned how the ministry had helped him nine years earlier. He thanked her for the life-saving gift of teaching him how to pray.