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The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops has blessed July 31, 2021 to be “Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday,” the day for Orthodox parishes across the United States to learn more about the work of Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM), the national prison ministry of the Orthodox Church and an agency of the Assembly of Bishops.

To have the greatest possible impact, OCPM serves in three ways: first, as the national Orthodox presence for prisons, corresponding with thousands of prisoners and connecting them to the Church by sending newsletters, spiritual books, icons, Bibles, and letters of personalized spiritual care. Secondly, OCPM serves as a haven for spiritual seekers, catechizing serious inquirers through a series of correspondence study courses that teach the history, doctrine, and spirit of Orthodox Christianity. Finally, OCPM coaches priests and laypeople on how to best serve prisoners near them, publishing resources designed to meet the stringent rules of prison mailing rooms and advocating for correctional facilities around the country to recognize the Orthodox faith, so that priests can enter prisons, celebrate services, and administer the Sacraments.

Ultimately, OCPM aims to fulfill Christ’s command to visit Him in prison (Matthew 25:36) by fostering long term relationships with prisoners over years or even decades. As a result, families are reunited, marriages are healed, and thousands of incarcerated men and women have a new sense of peace and restored order in their lives.

OCPM has published on its website a complete promotional package to help parishes celebrate this Sunday with bulletin inserts and suggested homilies. The full package can be downloaded here:

Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) is the national prison ministry of the Orthodox Church and an agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. Our mission is to serve those who are incarcerated and their families, and provide resources, training and support to our ministry partners so that lives are transformed and God is glorified. For Orthodox Christians who have been arrested for crimes, OCPM helps them return to the Faith, offering forgiveness and reconciliation with Christ. For both Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike, OCPM provides spiritual care, enabling prisoners to find hope and purpose in their lives.