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Saint Dismas Prison Ministry

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Saint Dismas Prison Ministry
Established2000; 21 years ago (2000)
George Williams
Ron Zeilinger

Saint Dismas Prison Ministry was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2000 to offer spiritual services for Catholic prisoners in the United States. The president is George Williams, a Jesuit priest.[1]


The ministry provides prisoners materials such as Bibles, rosaries, and other prayer resources, as well as faith study courses.[2] It provides materials for training those involved in prison or jail ministry.[3][4] Prisoners and prison chaplains who are not Catholic may also request the materials.[5] It collaborates with parishes and dioceses.[6][7][8] It was named after Dismas, the repentant thief.

It hosts an annual, national conference with speakers such as Sr. Helen Prejean.[9] It publishes a ministry newsletter three times a year.[10]


The ministry was founded in 2000 by Ron Zeilinger who found no "Catholic organization of a national scope providing Catholic materials”, and also that prison volunteers who were not Catholic outnumbered Catholics ministering in prisons by 40 to 1.[11][12]

In 2010 the ministry reached over 700 prisons in 43 states and 116 dioceses.[13] In 2018 it reached 12,000 inmates. Since founding it has supplied 128,400 Catholic Bibles and 163,400 copies of Pray in the Spirit: Catholic Prayers for Inmates.[14]


  1. "Board of Directors". Dismas Ministry. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  2. "Inmate Services". Dismas Ministry. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  3. "Messengers of Hope". Dismas Ministry. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  4. Lori Hadacek Chaplin (July 3, 2017). "Prison Ministry: From Convict to the Diaconate". Catholic Digest. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  5. "Frequently Asked Questions". Dismas Ministry. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  6. "Freedom behind bars". Our Sunday Visitor. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  7. Company. "Deacons see prison ministry as blessing behind bars". Our Sunday Visitor. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  8. Brian McCauley (April 5, 2018). "Prison Ministry Conference" (Press release). Saint Mary of the Assumption. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  9. "Bridges of Hope: Our 2018 National Catholic Prison Ministry Conference" (Press release). Dismas Ministry. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  10. "Newsletter". Dismas Ministry. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  11. "Dismas Ministry: Spreading God's Word in prisons". Angelus News. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  12. Everett, Paul F. (2005). The Prisoner: An Invitation to Hope. New York: Paulist Press. p. 180. ISBN 9780809143016. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  13. Amy E. Rewolinski (September 1, 2010). "Dismas Ministry celebrates 10 years". Catholic Herald. Milwaukee. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  14. "Dismas Ministry". Our Sunday Visitor. Retrieved May 19, 2018.

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