Collins Christian Ministries (CCM) is an ecumenical group, based on the Kairos program, which serves  the Collins Correctional Facility in Collins, N.Y. The group runs 3-day “retreats” twice a year, and also conducts Friday “groupings with the inmates. Our volunteers offer a positive experience for the inmates, attempting to provide hope for their better life inside and outside the barbed wire.   

The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed our work for over three years, but we were able to renew our retreat in April of 2023. Future retreats are currently on hold due to prison staffing shortages, but we have been able to continue the Friday grouping sessions.  The retreat ministry consists of two teams:

The males-only “Inside Team goes into the prison. We follow a specific program inspired by Kairos. Prisoners are placed in “family units” -6 to a table with 2-3 CCM members. We sing, we pray, and we educate them to the forgiveness and love fostered by Jesus Christ. We counsel by modeling and listening, and foster a safe, fun-filled experience.    

The Outside Team consists of a male and female support group- making breakfast for the inside team; cooking and transporting dinner to the inside, and praying for the prisoners and inside team alike. After a Weekend is completed, the outside team members may attend the  Sunday Graduation, as well as the aforementioned “Grouping Sessions”, which serve as weekly sustaining and support sessions. We often stay in touch with our new brothers after their release.

The highlight of the weekend occurs on Saturday night, with a forgiveness ceremony, followed by the outside team’s presence (and friends) at the prison fence, with candles- saying prayers and singing to those inside. It moves hardened men to tears, including yours truly.  

The basic thread that runs through the sessions is: Love, Love, Listen, Listen. We turn it all over to Jesus, working through the Holy Spirit.  We win some and we lose some, but it does not deter us. The prison has welcomed us through the years because we help to lower the rate of recidivism.

The people of St. Peters have supported our ministry by writing cards of encouragement and baking cookies and muffins for the inside team and prisoners alike.

Why do all this? As Jesus told his followers in Matthew 25: “Where were you when I asked you to visit those in prison? What you do to the least of these, you do to me.”

Peace and blessings,

Deacon Thomas Tripp

If you have questions, please contact Deacon Tom or Missi Lopat: the church at  (716) 832-9764 or online at