This Time on Knight Life
Prison Ministry: this time on Knight Life we depart from our usual fare. We’ve often visited Knights involved with our ultrasound initiative, or persons with Intellectual Disabilities or feeding the hungry and so many others.
Today we hear from 3 Knights who have or are reaching out to — our brothers and sisters in prison.
Hello, I’m Mike Gaspers with stories taken from the many activities of the Knights in Iowa providing information, inspiration and yes an invitation to join this Band of Brothers in living — charitable –merciful — faith.
Thank you to the Knights who see what needs to be done and then do it; and thank you to our sponsors who make it possible to bring you these stories.
This is Knight Life…our Mission: to Be Men of Courage as we lead our families in loving service to our fellow man, woman, child and unborn child.
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Overview of the Podcast – Prison Ministry
A common scriptural reference made when speaking of charitable works comes from Matthew chapter 25 where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. The criterion given by Jesus is the care of those who are suffering – caring for the least of my brothers and sisters is caring for Jesus.
For many of us its clear and perhaps easy to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless or clothe the naked – they seem so deserving. As Knights we clearly engage in charitable activity addressing these needs.
Less commonly heard from are Knights caring for the ill or visiting those in prison.
Nearly 1 in 100 people in this country are in prison – incarcerated for a bad decision. Each of us may know someone who is “in the system” or maybe it’s even a family member. Many times it may have been a youth-ful bad decision and their stay isn’t for long – however the stigma of being imprisoned can last much longer.
It might be easy to dismiss those in prison as getting what they deserved. But as we hear today from dedicated Knights they are still children of God with dignity who need to know they can still be loved.
In late December I sat down on a Tuesday evening with two Knights – Deacon Joe Twidwell and Deacon Dennis Brockhaus — after they’d spent an evening at the Woodbury county jail. I think you will find their witness enlightening and inspiring.
The face of Christ — what they’ve done for the least of Christ’s followers they’ve done for Jesus himself.
It may not have been clear but Deacon Twidwell spent many years as a JAG officer prosecuting and putting offenders behind bars. He shared with me the difficulty considering a prison ministry and how at first he wanted to choose something else. Some 12 years later he seldom misses a Tuesday night at the jail.
You also heard a brief mention of the Warming Shelter – another project of Deacon Twidwell that seeks to help those whom no other shelter will accept. Sometimes, Deacon Twidwell shared – you see people at the shelter that you met first at the jail. Everyone deserves a roof over their head during these frigid Iowa winter nights. It may save their life in more ways than one.
This is Mike Gaspers for the Knight Life. We’ve been talking with Deacons Twidwell and Brockhaus – about their work at the Woodbury county jail bringing Christ and basic human acceptance to those whose hope in themselves and society is at a real low.
I invite you to learn more about Iowa Knights by visiting www.iowakofc.org where you will find information on the spiritual & charitable works of the Iowa Knights.
Sometimes spending time in prison – as hard as that may be – is easier than getting out of prison. For some family support has withered and societal trust has been withdrawn. Its hard to get back on your feet – find a job, get a shelter if no one gives you a chance. Soon you may end up associating with places and people that led you to the first bad decision – and the cycle repeats.
My own son spent 5 years incarcerated and I recall how difficult those first couple of years after prison were to become established and earn back lost trust. I could lend a hand to help my son – not everyone has that support.
This last October I met an elderly retired Knight – Harold Overmann who had spent the better years of his retirement helping young men fresh out of prison get back on their feet. He describes the path to his involvement and the fulfilment he has received.
Harold’s description of his response to Matthew 25 struck me at the time as inspired. Those young men whom he helped through the years at least had a better chance to succeed in their walk with Christ and reintegrating with a community.
Harold downplays his early years as a Knight but its not uncommon nor is it necessarily a bad thing. All of us as Fathers and Husbands have a primary responsibility to those vocations first – and while its necessary and right to engage with your family members in charitable works thru the years its in retirement years that most of us will have more time to give back.
Brothers in Blue is a non-compulsory weekend program conducted by volunteers focusing on love, grace and forgiveness. To learn more about the Brothers in Blue Prison ministry do an internet search or contact a representative of your local jail.
This is Mike Gaspers and you are listening to the Knight Life show where we strive to tell the story of the Iowa Knights from an insider’s point of view. This time we’ve heard about Knights who help others whose mistakes put them behind bars but did not make them less deserving of our love and support. Each of the Knights we talked to found their involvement fulfilling and allowed them to touch something transcendent – to see the face of Christ in these least ones.
Next time on Knight Life we will be exploring other facets of Knights putting the vision of Venerable Fr McGivney into action in their local communities. Listen in next time on the Knight Life.
We will end with a reflection on Knights to Christ. Knights to Christ is an initiative to combine scripture, the principles of the Knights and contemporary reflection. Steve Hesprich helps us to see how the power of hope can change someone’s life.
To find out more on the Iowa Knights visit our website www.iowakofc.org. You can follow Iowa Knights of Columbus on Facebook or on Twitter @IAKnights for the latest news and updates.
To learn more about Knights to Christ or to get the entire book of reflections visit http://www.knightstochrist.org/
I’m Mike Gaspers, thank you for listening. Feeling inspired by what you heard? Then I invite you to act courageously and with love to put your faith into action by word and by deeds starting in your own family.
If you are interested in this Band of Brothers focused on being better active Catholics and fathers while reaching out to those in need; contact a Knight or your parish priest and we will bring you into this fraternity of Catholic men.
Our State Deputy is Jon Aldrich of Altoona who exhorts each of us to Be Strong. Be Courageous. Step into the Breach with Us.
Knight Life is a production of the Iowa Knights of Columbus.