After more than 2 years of suspension due to the Covid 19 pandemic, our Collins Christian Ministries group was able to re-start our service to Collins Correctional Facility this past August. We are now able to again conduct “grouping sessions” with the prisoners on Friday evenings. CCM is an ecumenical prison ministry in Western New York, counting on volunteers to assist the prison chaplains in offering a positive experience for the inmates, and providing hope for their life outside the barbed wire.
In March of 2023, we will once again be able to conduct our multiple-day “retreat” to recruit men into the weekly sessions described above. This 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 helped the 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: (716) 832-9764 or firstname.lastname@example.org