June 26 Prayer Vigil to Abolish Ohio's Death Penalty

MANSFIELD—People of all faiths are invited to St. Peter Catholic Church in Mansfield for a Prayer Vigil to Abolish Ohio’s Death Penalty on Monday, June 26, beginning with Mass at 5:30 p.m. The 30-minute prayer vigil will immediately follow Mass at 6 p.m. at St. Peter Church, 60 South Mulberry Street, Mansfield, OH. We pray this evening of peaceful prayer will bring the light of Christ Jesus to move the hearts and minds of all present to a deeper appreciation of the dignity of human life, as we pray for victims of crime and those facing execution.

Votive Candle Prayer VigilAfter a three-year hiatus, Ohio’s plan to resume executions by lethal injection has been delayed until July. On Jan. 26, 2017, a federal judge ruled midazolam, used in the State of Ohio’s execution drug protocol, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. 

Diocese of Toledo Bishop Daniel E. Thomas urges all Catholics and people of goodwill to:

1. Pray for the victims of crime, those facing execution, and those working in the criminal justice system;

2. Reach out to the families of those affected by violent crime by bringing Christ’s love and compassion;

3. Learn about the Catholic Church’s teaching on capital punishment and educate others in this vital area of concern by visiting: http://www.usccb.org/…/death-penalty-capital-puni…/index.cfm;

4. Advocate for the end of the death penalty by sending a postcard and by calling Governor John Kasich at: 614-466-3555, urging clemency for all 139 individuals on death row in the State of Ohio.

5. Join us for a series of monthly Candlelight Prayer Vigils for the abolition of the death penalty being planned throughout the Diocese of Toledo.

Churches of any faith denomination interested in holding a Prayer Vigil, or individuals interested in volunteering for Catholic Charities Jail & Prison Ministry, should contact Justice Ministry Coordinator Nick Lyster at 419.214.4958 or email him at nlyster@toledodiocese.org

Catholic Charities Seeks Churches to Host Prayer Vigils for Life

After a three-year hiatus, Ohio’s plans to resume executions by lethal injection are now pushed to July 26, 2017, due to lethal injection court battles and the power of prayer.

Beginning in January, people of all faiths across Northwest and West Central Ohio have gathered together to pray for the victims of crime, those facing execution and the abolishment of Ohio’s death penalty.

Candlelight Prayer Vigil

Vigils for Life have been held at St. Francis de Sales Chapel-Toledo, St. Paul the Apostle Church-Norwalk, St. Gerard Church-Lima, and Lourdes University Queen of Peace Chapel-Sylvania.

Catholic Charities Office for Life & Justice is looking for parishes throughout the Diocese of Toledo to host a vigil each month, including in May and monthly thereafter. Parishes interested in hosting a vigil should contact Justice Ministry Coordinator Nick Lyster at 419.214.4958; or email nlyster@toledodiocese.org.

Thank you for considering, as we seek to build a culture of life through prayer and love of every human person!

Diocesan Jail & Prison Ministry Gather in Findlay - March 11

FINDLAY— Anyone currently involved with or interested in volunteering for Catholic Charities Jail and Prison Ministry is invited to attend this half-day educational session. The event will be held Saturday, March 11, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Activity Center, 750 Bright Road, Findlay, OH. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

This event is open to anyone currently involved with or interested in volunteering for this Catholic Charities ministry. Topics to be discussed include:

jail bars & cross thumbnail

  • Mission/Vision of the Jail & Prison Ministry, Nick Lyster, Justice Ministry Coordinator;
  • Catholic Social Teaching Context, Peter Range, Director of Office for Life and Justice;
  • Evangelization training, Deacon Joe Malenfant, Sr. Director Discipleship & Family Life;
  • Best Practices from Northwest and West Central Ohio ministry facilities; and
  • Volunteer recruitment.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The event runs from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Cost is $15 to cover morning refreshments and lunch.

Please RSVP to Nick Lyster, Catholic Charities Justice Ministry Coordinator at 419.214.4958 or email him at nlyster@toledodiocese.org.

Candlelight Vigil for Life in Lima - March 20

People of all faiths are invited to join Rev. Michael Sergi and the Northwest Ohio community for a Candlelight Vigil for Abolishment of Ohio’s Death Penalty on Monday, March 20, from 7 to 8 p.m. at St. Gerard Church, 240 W. Robb Avenue, Lima, OH. We pray this evening of peaceful prayer will bring the light of Christ Jesus to move the hearts and minds of all present to a deeper appreciation of the dignity of human life, as we pray for victims of crime and those facing execution.

Votive Candle Prayer VigilAfter a three-year hiatus, Ohio’s plan to resume executions by lethal injection is on hold. Jan. 26, 2017, a federal judge ruled midazolam, used in the State of Ohio’s execution drug protocol, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The three individuals granted stays of execution are now scheduled for execution at a later date this year: Ronald Phillips, May 10; Gary Otte, June 13; and Raymond Tibbetts, July 26.

Diocese of Toledo Bishop Daniel E. Thomas urges all Catholics and people of goodwill to:

1. Pray for the victims of crime, those facing execution, and those working in the criminal justice system;

2. Reach out to the families of those affected by violent crime by bringing Christ’s love and compassion;

3. Learn about the Catholic Church’s teaching on capital punishment and educate others in this vital area of concern by visiting: http://www.usccb.org/…/death-penalty-capital-puni…/index.cfm;

4. Advocate for the end of the death penalty by sending a postcard and by calling Governor John Kasich at: 614-466-3555, urging clemency for all 139 individuals on death row in the State of Ohio.

5. Join us for a series of monthly Candlelight Prayer Vigils for the abolition of the death penalty being planned throughout the Diocese of Toledo.

The next Candlelight Prayer Vigil is planned for Tuesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. at St. Gerard Church, 240 West Robb Avenue, Lima, OH, with Rev. Michael D. Sergi presiding.

Churches of any faith denomination interested in holding a Prayer Vigil, or individuals interested in volunteering for Catholic Charities Jail & Prison Ministry, should contact Justice Ministry Coordinator Nick Lyster at 419.214.4958 or email him at nlyster@toledodiocese.org.

For more info contact Justice Ministry Coordinator Nick Lyster at nlyster@toledodiocese.org

Candlelight Vigil for Life in Norwalk - Feb. 14

People of all faiths are invited to join Msgr. Kenneth G. Morman and the Northwest Ohio community for a Candlelight Vigil for Abolishment of Ohio’s Death Penalty on Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 7 to 8 p.m. at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, 91 East Main Street, Norwalk, OH. We pray this evening of peaceful prayer will bring the light of Christ Jesus to move the hearts and minds of all present to a deeper appreciation of the dignity of human life, as we pray for victims of crime and those facing execution.

Votive Candle Prayer VigilAfter a three-year hiatus, Ohio’s plan to resume executions by lethal injection is on hold. Jan. 26, 2017, a federal judge ruled midazolam, used in the State of Ohio’s execution drug protocol, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The three individuals granted stays of execution are now scheduled for later execution: Ronald Phillips, May 10; Gary Otte, June 13; and Raymond Tibbetts, July 26.

Diocese of Toledo Bishop Daniel E. Thomas urges all Catholics and people of goodwill to:

1. Pray for the victims of crime, those facing execution, and those working in the criminal justice system;

2. Reach out to the families of those affected by violent crime by bringing Christ’s love and compassion;

3. Learn about the Catholic Church’s teaching on capital punishment and educate others in this vital area of concern by visiting: http://www.usccb.org/…/death-penalty-capital-puni…/index.cfm;

4. Advocate for the end of the death penalty by sending a postcard and by calling Governor John Kasich at: 614-466-3555, urging clemency for all 139 individuals on death row in the State of Ohio.

5. Join us for a series of monthly Candlelight Prayer Vigils for the abolition of the death penalty being planned throughout the Diocese of Toledo.

The next Candlelight Prayer Vigil is planned for Tuesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. at St. Gerard Church, 240 West Robb Avenue, Lima, OH, with Rev. Michael D. Sergi presiding.

Churches of any faith denomination interested in holding a Prayer Vigil, or individuals interested in volunteering for Catholic Charities Jail & Prison Ministry, should contact Justice Ministry Coordinator Nick Lyster at 419.214.4958 or email him at nlyster@toledodiocese.org.

For more info contact Justice Ministry Coordinator Nick Lyster at nlyster@toledodiocese.org

Forum Addressed the Death Penalty in Ohio

On Thursday, Oct. 16, Ohioans to Stop Executions hosted the “Voices of Experiences: The Death Penalty”  at the Franciscan Center of Lourdes University.  The event was sponsored by Catholic Charities and was part of a series of Town Hall Forums to address the recommendations given by the Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force to increase the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty in Ohio.

In 2007, Ohio was assessed as falling short in 93% of the American Bar Association (ABA) standards for a fair and accurate state death penalty system, according to  www.oste.org.

Early this year, The Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force made over 50 recommendations to address the findings of the Ohio Death Penalty.  Those recommendations have yet to be implemented.

At the event, students and members of the community heard testimonies of people who has experienced death row from different viewpoints. Speakers included Charles Keith, whose brother was on Ohio’s death row before his sentence was commuted, Terry J. Collins, Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and oversaw more than 30 executions, and Derrick Jamison, who spent almost 20 years on death row before being exonerated in 2005.

Jamison is one of six people exonerated from Ohio’s Death Row. He was convicted in 1985 for the murder of Gary Mitchell, a bartender who fell victim to a bar robbery, which Jamison did not commit. After spending nearly two decades on death row, Jamison’s conviction was overturned due to evidence that was withheld from his original trial. He is now free man who lives in Cincinnati and voices his experience on death row.

“I don’t think one person should have the right to say you live or die,” says Jamison in an interview for the Dayton City Paper in 2011.

“The government says it’s wrong to kill and then they turn around and murder you. I watched them take young men out of their cells and murder them. I watched a lot of my friends die. I tell stories all around the world and people are astonished that this sort of thing is still going on. We are the only civilized country in the world that still kills its citizens.”

Click here to read more of his story.

Death Row Facts from otse.org:

  • There have been 316 death sentences in the state of Ohio since 1981.
  • An innocent person on death row will spend an average of 17.5 years in prison before being exonerated.
  • Since 1999, there have been 53 men executed.

 

In the town of Lima, you can’t help but look at the massive buildings that sit behind the snowy fields. Most of these buildings are state correctional facilities that have housed thousands of inmates over the years.

The brick building, known as Allen Correctional Institution, is where Sue Bishop and her team of 40 volunteers go about four times a year to minister to the inmates behind these prison doors.

“We want our inmates to walk away knowing that God loves them and that there are people out there who care,” Sue says.

Giving God a Chance

From Friday to Sunday, the inmates and volunteers join together to pray, share stories and participate in activities. They end the weekend with Sunday Mass.

“We have a turnout of about 100 inmates,” says another volunteer, Leanne Kerschner. “At Mass in the prison, everybody’s participating, everybody’s praying, everybody’s singing. It’s just a really great atmosphere. It’s wonderful.”

Greg participated in several retreats during his time at Allen Correctional from 1988 to 2007.

“I was wandering aimlessly. I thought I’d just do my time and get out and go home,” he says. “I’d been away from church for a while. Then the light came on.”

The prison chaplain suggested Greg give God a chance and attend the retreats. Hearing the volunteers talk about their own experience of overcoming problems helped Greg take a fresh look at his life.

“You can be humbled to realize you have so much when you feel like you don’t have anything,” he says.

After going on more retreats, he found a new sense of purpose. He was confirmed in his childhood Catholic faith by Auxiliary Bishop Robert Donnelly while still in prison. With a new direction in life, he spent his free time at Allen Correctional studying tax law and taking college classes. He graduated with a financial degree from Ohio University while still incarcerated.

He credits Sue and her team for helping him get to where he is now – a faithful church member and owner of his own business. He also reaches out to those just released from prison to help them reintegrate into society.

Whoever is Forgiven Much

“We minster to a lot of guys who just made bad choices,” Sue says. “The faith of some of these guys is amazing.”

Leanne agrees: “I think it goes back to the Bible verse that says whoever is forgiven much, loves much. Knowing that they are forgiven from something big makes them love more.”

Sue remembers an inmate who had strong hopes of getting parole but was denied. “I was crushed,” she says. “We got there and I said, ‘I don’t even know what to say.’ ”

She pauses again and with a soft tone in her voice says, “He turned to me and said ‘It’s ok … God has something else planned for me.’”

Greg thanks the team for making a difference in his life.

“They have their struggles in life, but they still found time for us,” he says. “It put me in the right direction, and let me know God’s always there.”

I’ve come simply to tell you that God loves you with an infinite love.
– Pope Benedict XVI in a 2011 address to inmates of Rome’s Ribibbia prison

Larry is a clean-cut Catholic with a warm smile, sincere eyes and true passion for his faith. He’s a lector at his parish and a former inmate of the Allen Correctional Institute. He spent 10 years, eight months and 26 days in prison. He’s been abandoned by some friends and family members. When he was incarcerated, he felt guilt and shame. He agonized over whether he could ever be accepted in his hometown when he was released.

“When my world came crashing down around me, I knew where I needed to go. I was that lost sheep that needed to be found,” says Larry. He began attending weekly Mass when he was at the Lima Correctional Institute before being transferred to Allen. Then, at Allen, his quest for faith took root. Participating in Awareness Retreats supported by Catholic Charities gave him hope. “They were the first outside people to help, encourage and motivate me on my spiritual journey,” Larry says.

“They let us know there are people who see us as children of God. “They gave me such hope that people would be willing to include me. Hope is so important and so many people don’t have that when they’re in prison,” Larry explains. “

A lot of people didn’t have people to visit them. It was as close as they got to a visit from someone who cared about them.”

Prison is a place of hardened hearts, too. “You always have to be a tough guy in prison,” he says. Consequently, the retreats started with icebreakers that had the inmates “singing and twirling around.” Larry reveals, “I began to realize we don’t have a lot of opportunity to laugh. It lifted a burden when we just had an opportunity to be silly. We didn’t have to worry about being a tough guy for the first time in a long time. You could just be yourself.

“It’s hard to quantify what this does to guys,” Larry says. An especially powerful exercise aims to validate their dignity and worthiness. The men and retreat volunteers – one on one, face-to-face –rotated partners and shared compassion with phrases like, “When I look into your eyes I know you are forgiven, and when I look into your eyes I know Jesus loves you.”

“Tears start coming down and lips are quivering. These grown men weep because a lot of people don’t have people who care about them. It’s very emotional.”

Today, he serves this prison ministry by volunteering at Awareness Retreats, as does his wife. “God called me. I’m returning the service. I know I couldn’t have done it by myself,” he says.

 

“A friend told me about La Posada. I came and I was surprised because it doesn’t look like a shelter. It looks just like a home. I was so glad when they told me we could stay. They’ve been so good to me. Honestly, none of this would be happening if I hadn’t been here. They’ve helped me so much.” – Marquita, La Posada resident

Our Mission

Catholic Charities makes real the love God has for each individual regardless of faith or background, by serving the poor, speaking for and assisting the neglected and forgotten, respecting and promoting life from beginning to end, and nurturing and supporting individuals and families.

Catholic Charities Northwest Ohio

 

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