Chief of sinners though we be...
Nothing keeps us more firmly rooted to the cross of Christ than the realization of our need for a Savior. And praise God that He sent His son—for all. This knowledge spurs us, as Christians, to love, forgive, and share Christ with others. Campus Ministry’s Prison Ministry is one of the many opportunities for CUW students to put that realization into action.
Around 2010, the late Rick Riehl, a beloved Advancement and Athletics staff member, found out about a student of his who had ended up in prison. He stayed in touch with the student, and the idea of encouraging those who have been incarcerated surfaced. Rick reconnected with his former student after he was released, and, with the backing of Campus Ministry, began the letter-writing “pen pal” ministry to try to give hope to inmates.
Hilarie Nigro, this year’s student-leader of Prison Ministry, Pastor Smith, and Chaplain Afam Ikanih, an LCMS pastor from Milwaukee House of Corrections, have worked together to revitalize this ministry. This year, Prison Ministry returned and now serves more inmates than ever.
Below, Hilarie answers some frequently asked questions about the group.
Q: What is Prison Ministry?
A: Prison Ministry involves writing letters to our Brothers in Christ from the Milwaukee House of Corrections. We are currently serving 68 inmates, all being released within the year. All of these men signed up to receive letters from us and are excited to share their faith.
Q: Why do it?
A: We do it because they are our brothers in Christ. The goal is simply to lend an ear to those who need it and create friendship with them. These men have made mistakes in the past, but are in a good place now and want to talk about their faith and hardships in life.
Q: How does it work?
A: To do it, you just have to sign up using Sign-Up Genius, pick a pseudonym and put it in the comment section, get your pen pal from me, write them, and then send the letter in the envelopes and with the stamps our club provides. We want to be as safe as possible doing this because we have to face the reality that these men are criminals.
Creating the pseudonyms and not releasing a ton of personal information will also help protect your privacy and ensure your safety. Our ministry also wants to ensure that those who get involved will be willing to talk to the inmates about their faith and encourage them through it. It really is low maintenance, you just have to write a letter about every 2 weeks.
Q: Why do you feel motivated to be involved?
A: I personally do it because I love talking to new people and getting to know them. Yeah, these guys made a mistake, but that doesn’t define them. We are all sinners and all have made mistakes. Through Christ and His crucifixion, we are forgiven and will always be forgiven when we repent.
Sign up for Prison Ministry here.
If you have any questions or want more information, email Hilarie Nigro.
— Madelyne Arrigoni is a senior studying English, Mass Communications, and Photography. She plans to graduate in 2022.
If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.