‘I Was in Prison, and You Came to Me’

I just made the acquaintance of a man named Chris Quinn, who volunteers at the Roederer Correctional Facility in LaGrange, Kentucky. He and other Catholic laymen have an apostolate among the prisoners there. Mr. Quinn wrote to tell me how much he appreciated our material on Father Arnold Damen, because two works of this great missionary have proven very helpful in his prison apostolate.

Mr. Quinn allowed me to publish his brief account, which I think should inspire others to perform similar works of mercy:

I have been visiting the intake facility for the prison system in Kentucky for the past 4.5 years. Men are usually at the facility for testing and are shipped to permanent facilities after 6-8 weeks. We see them when many have hit rock bottom and are looking for answers.

Most come from Protestant backgrounds and will accept guidance from Scripture, but don’t recognize any authority of the Catholic Church. Through the years I came to see a framework for how to explain the Faith to non-Catholics, but never put it together. I looked for “the answer” and found it in Father Damen’s pamphlets, The Church or the Bible and The One True Church.

I have shared these talks with inmates, and have been amazed at the transformation that takes place in some of them after reading the talks. One non-Catholic is so convinced of the Church that he longs to enter it and to receive the Eucharist. He has shared his new understanding of the Faith with many inmates who didn’t make it to our services.

I am fascinated by Father Damen, and feel a connection to this man, whose words are changing lives almost 150 years after his death.