Q —  Inmates are talented, faithful, and concerned about the needs of others and I wonder if they can receive training and become a prayer group leader, RCIA catechist, or an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist in prison. Thank you.

A — This is a very good question, and it shows great generosity and love for the church on the part of inmates. Obviously, the questioner understands that formal training is required for these various ministries in the church: RCIA catechist, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. A catechist must clearly be competent in respect of the church’s teaching and tradition, and every local church/diocese makes provision for the training of catechists. The Archdiocese of Portland undoubtedly has its criteria as well as programs for enabling lay ministers to participate in these ministries.

What the archdiocese actually requires may be found out by consulting the archdiocesan website where you will find information about the various diocesan offices, and then making contact with the appropriate person/director. Alternatively, and more immediately, making contact with the pastor of the local parish in which the prison is situated may put personnel and resources at your disposal in this regard. No specific training is required for someone to lead a prayer group, although some kind of preparation and input from established prayer group leaders would be of genuine help. Here also the pastor and the local parish can probably help with specifics. What is to be commended is the willingness to support and to promote the church’s witness. This is what the new evangelization is all about, and it is wonderful to hear that inmates wish to be involved.

May God bless the work.