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Beyond the Bars Blog

Early Church History: Receiving the Ancient Faith Behind Bars

Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in Meridian, Idaho, is quickly becoming a model parish for Orthodox prison ministry. Among the 200 people that regularly attend services, at least a quarter of their parishioners are involved in prison ministry. “Oh my gosh, the attitude and response of my parish has been fantastic!” says Donna Allee, Prison Ministry […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

“I Knew I Had God With and In Me”: How to Celebrate Theophany from Behind Bars

The over 1,300 people in prison we serve are used to receiving spiritual “blessings” in the mail, but February is a special month. February is the only time everyone receives an icon sprinkled with holy water.  Prepare and quiet yourself, the “Blessing of the Cells” service pamphlet begins. Set up your icons, and place the […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

“Miracles Take Time”: How the Jesus Prayer Heals Behind Bars

Fr. John Kowalczyk, OCPM Director of Training and Spiritual Care, has gotten used to seeing inmates at their absolute worst.When admitted to the Mental Health Unit (MHU) of Pennsylvania’s SCI Waymart, inmates have a complete break from reality. They are a danger to themselves and others. “The day I met Ezra, he had written an […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

Prison Relationship Managers: A New Team for Those Behind Bars

For our brothers and sisters in prison, there is no greater need than having a consistent, loving, Christian presence in their lives. However, providing this kind of long-term relationship is not easy to achieve in prison.  Many prisons are in very rural places, with the closest Orthodox church being hours away. Most Orthodox clergy are hard pressed […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

OCPM-Houston: Bringing the Light of Christ Means Serving in Many Ways

After an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, Bob Born was asked if he would like to also volunteer at the first faith-based prison unit in the United States, the Carol Vance Unit in Texas. He was reluctant at first, but he said ‘yes’ anyway. Now, after connecting with the founder of OCPM, Fr. Duane Pederson, his […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

Mike Kosanovich, Special Agent FBI

Michael Kosanovich was a Special Agent for the FBI and was promoted to FBI headquarters to work International Terrorism matters just prior to the 9/11 attacks in Washington D.C. and New York. In 2003 Michael was assigned to Chicago as a Terrorism Supervisor and in 2010 was promoted to the number two position in the […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

“God was Always With Me”: The Prison Ministry Journal of Toby John, Part 4

Below is the last installment of our four-part series of journal entries from OCPM’s Prison Relationship Manager during his internship with OCPM and St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (STOTS). If you haven’t already, make sure to read Part One and Part Two and Part Three of Toby John’s Prison Ministry Journal. March 22 This day was significantly different from […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

Meet Paul, Real Life Prodigal Son

The Assembly of Bishops has blessed July 30, 2023 as Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday (PMAS), when hundreds of Orthodox Christian churches of all jurisdictions across the United States will recognize and share about the importance of prison ministry for the life of the Church. To help get us into PMAS spirit, enjoy this beautiful testimony […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

“Not Ashamed to Ask”: The Prison Ministry Journal of Toby John, Part 3

Below is Part Three in a new four-part series of journal entries from OCPM’s Prison Relationship Manager during his internship with OCPM and St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (STOTS). If you haven’t already, make sure to read Part One and Part Two of Toby John’s Prison Ministry Journal. Tuesday, February 28 – March 1, 2023 […]

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Beyond the Bars Blog

“I Knew Without Any Doubt that God was In that Place”: A Reflection from Mark Santana

OCPM recently held a staff retreat in Pennsylvania. We had the privilege of visiting with seminarians, along with the Dean at St. Tikhon’s Seminary and the Abbott at St. Tikhon’s Monastery. We also visited SCI Waymart, a nearby prison, escorted by Fr. John Kowalczyk and Fr. Stephen Powley, Co-Directors of Training and Spiritual Care at […]