“An Inmate is Praying for Me, Unworthy as I Am”: A Lenten Reflection from Fr. Michael Pejovic

Being a Prisoner Relationship Manager (PRM) for OCPM is no easy task. Each PRM is responsible for hundreds of people in prison across the United States. They are not only personally responding to each inmate’s spiritual needs, but also assisting his or her community around them (family members, Orthodox clergy, prison staff, etc.). With the trauma that often accompanies just one person in prison, you can imagine the heavy cross our PRMs are carrying for our brothers and sisters behind bars.

Fr. Michael Pejovic, PRM, was feeling the heaviness of his ministry particularly during the first week of Great Lent (known as “Clean Week”). Clean Week is an intentionally disorienting and challenging week the Church invites us to endure, in order to shift our spiritual lives into greater focus for the rest of the Lenten season. Father’s time in seminary taught him ways to survive Clean Week. “When we need a moment of recognition that everything we do is not futile, and that our sacrifice is not in vain, we turn to the Church and our spiritual Fathers,” he says.

But this year, being a PRM added a new layer of difficulty for him. And his consolation came from a person he didn’t expect: someone in prison.

“Not even in my wildest dreams did I think I would receive a ‘spiritual booster shot’ from an inmate I correspond with. When I sign off to them, ‘…and please remember us in your prayers,’ I usually say that without any real notion that someone out there might take up action and actually pray for me.”

His brother in prison did pray for Fr. Michael, and he even wrote it down so Father could read it for himself:

Heavenly Father, Your Word tells me that You are altogether other and that You dwell in an unapproachable light. You are holy, holy, holy. As I come before Your throne, my King, I come with confidence, not because there is any merit in me, but because there is total merit in Your Son Jesus, who shed his precious blood to create a new and living way. I come hand in hand with Father Michael, Lord, and I ask that you would pay special attention to him right now. As You look down from on high, I ask that You would remember him and move on his behalf. You know the load he carries; You know the weight of responsibility that comes with being a shepherd of the sheep; You know how the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy everything that Father Michael does and is. Nevertheless, Father, I know You to be a God of great grace. Abundant grace. Matchless grace and boundless mercy. Have compassion on Your servant and bless his life, his health, his family, and his ministry. Strengthen him where he’s weak. Refocus him when he drifts. Sanctify his pain and suffering. And continue to work out Your will in His life.

Fr. Michael was in tears when he shared this letter with the OCPM staff. “Now I know an inmate is praying for me, unworthy as I am. The world [of incarceration], although forgotten by society, is truly alive and vibrant in the eyes of God.”

Share this story

Receive inspiration in your inbox