In 1619, one of Vincent’s ministries was to serve men in jails and prisons. He soon became chaplain to the galley slaves, who were criminals used to row boats and ships, in Marseilles, France. Vincent was appalled by the horrible conditions these prisoners were subjected to. He encouraged reform of prisoner rights. He provided the Sacraments, Eucharist and Mass to those in prisons. He encouraged parishioners to provide simple acts of kindness and service to them.
A story is told that one day Vincent saw a prisoner being brutally whipped. The prisoner collapsed to the floor and was unable to continue rowing the ships oar. Without hesitation, Vincent leapt to his aid and began rowing in place of the prisoner. We, as Vincentians, follow in St. Vincent’s footsteps and serve these men and women who are so often forgotten.
Today, it is one of our ministries to serve the population of incarcerated men and women. Some services we provide in prisons are sacraments, confession, Mass, and spiritual guidance.
Unfortunately, many of the people return to prison. It is important inmates receive support from the outside world upon release. We create programs that help reduce the rate of recidivism, or return back into prison. When individuals return back to society, it is important they have a secure job, close support system, and stable housing. These things can drastically affect an individual’s return back into society. We work to establish and provide these resources to those reentering society.