During this time of pandemic, when isolation is among the most pressing of problems, Vermont Catholic Charities’ prison ministry has found a way to prayerfully support prisoners who are among the most marginalized in society.

Deacon Gerry Scilla, coordinator of prison ministry, explained a recently implemented initiative that allows volunteers to gather through Zoom to hold “Pray and Share” meetings, praying for prisoners as well as sharing personal concerns and building community among volunteers.

Deacon Scilla, who develops each unique 40-minute prayer service, explained that early on in the pandemic, a letter was sent to each of six Vermont prison facilities letting inmates know that even though volunteers and clergy were no longer allowed to visit because of Covid-19 restrictions, inmates would not be forgotten.

The letters drew responses from a number of grateful prisoners, Deacon Scilla said.

Over time, the idea for Zoom gatherings crystallized, taking place about every two months and including a series of prayers for mercy, hope and comfort, as well as for corrections officers, staff and prison ministry volunteers.

“If we can’t pray with you, we can pray for you,” has become a meaningful slogan, Deacon Scilla said. “There’s been a lot of positive feedback.”

—Originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.