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Friends Through Pens

A pen pal mentoring program where volunteers commit to anonymous monthly written correspondence to a prison inmate.

The Office Prison and Jail Ministry of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, in partnership with the Order of Malta, is pleased to announce the launching of a new program to provide an opportunity to be involved in prison ministry right from the comfort of your own homes.

"I was in prison and you visited me."

Friends Through Pens is a pen pal mentoring program sponsored by the Order of Malta. As a volunteer, you would commit to anonymous monthly written correspondence to an inmate who has already been screened by the program. These inmates often feel alone and forgotten, and your inspiring words of comfort fill them with hope.

Incarcerated participants have agreed not to request special favors from you (financial assistance, romantic involvement, personal contact) and all correspondence is exchanged directly through the Order of Malta headquarters to ensure your safety and privacy.

Your personal letter is a work of mercy, expressing compassion, understanding and guidance to rebuild inmates’ self-esteem. As a prison pen pal mentor, you are participating in the valuable act of restorative justice, because studies have proven that pen pal mentoring decreases the rate of recidivism and helps to positively form the character of those who will be returning to society.

Enjoying a pen pal relationship with an individual who is incarcerated is a blessed way to engage in living the sixth Corporal Work of Mercy—"Visit the Imprisoned."

From the comfort of your own home, you will be able to change the life of a person who may receive little to no outside human interaction. The methodology of this volunteer ministry has been well established by the Order of Malta to be a safe and efficient way to correspond with someone who is imprisoned. Urban Ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has partnered with the Order of Malta to offer you this opportunity.

To engage in this ministry, follow these steps:

  1. Read the rules/guidelines for this ministry, print and sign your acknowledgment of the guidelines.
  2. Complete the Pen Pal Assignment form and mail, along with the acknowledgment of the guidelines, to the Order of Malta.
  3. Wait for the Order of Malta to connect you with an individual who is incarcerated.
    Note: There is an example of the form that those who are incarcerated fill out when they request a pen pal. As you can see, they share their interests to make it easier to launch a written dialog.
  4. You will then receive correspondence. Follow the step-by-step process when you receive your prisoner assignment.

Enjoy your pen pal relationship and God bless you for visiting the imprisoned!

Deacon Jim Matthias
Director, Respect Life Ministry

Parish Resources

Friends Through Pens flyer

Download these resources when implementing this program at your parish.

Friends Through Pens Flyer

Sample Letter

Bulletin Ad

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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
St. Francis, WI 53235

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
Toll-Free: (800) 769-9373
Fax:  (414)  769-3408