Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer
March 19, 2024 // Diocese

St. Pius X Extends Christ’s Love to Local Prisoners

Claire Kenney
Freelance Writer

Each Saturday at St. Joseph County Jail, approximately 12 male inmates pray and reflect on God’s word. Their reasons for being incarcerated vary, but their purpose and their prayer is unified.

The group seeks to grow closer to God and to grow in faith.

“Society may intend prison to be a place of punishment, but God can use it as a place of refinement and transformation,” said St. Pius X parishioner Chris Cossin, who joins the men in Saturday prayer and discussion once a month as part of the St. Pius X Jail and Prison Ministry.

Parishioner John Bolstetter approached Monsignor Bill Schooler about beginning the ministry.

“As he saw the increased need for Catholic presence to the incarcerated in our region, in early 2023, we formed a formal prison ministry in order to expand our coverage,” Monsignor Schooler said.

In addition to St. Joseph County Jail, the St. Pius X Jail and Prison Ministry extends to Westville Correctional Facility, South Bend Community Re-Entry Center, and community-based residential correctional facilities.

“Through the years, I have seen the need to visit inmates in more facilities than just the jail, so I approached Father Bill in the spring of 2023 to create a formal prison ministry,” Bolstetter told Today’s Catholic. “We now have about 20 volunteers who serve at the jail, the South Bend Community Re-Entry Center, the Westville Correctional Facility, and the Dismas House.”

The ministry’s mission is spelled out on its website (, which states: “The St. Pius X Jail and Prison Ministry was created to respond to Christ’s call for us to love and care for our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated, recently released, and reentering society. Its mission is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and share of His sacramental life with incarcerated individuals and their families in order to foster hope, human dignity, and an opportunity for new beginnings.”

Monsignor Schooler said he is “happy that we have begun this ministry.”

Those who volunteer in the prison ministry at St. Pius X are inspired to serve by Scripture, in particular Matthew 25.

“In Matthew 25, Jesus calls us to visit the imprisoned,” Monsignor Schooler said. “The prison ministry is called to serve God by providing a Catholic presence to the incarcerated within our region.”

In fact, Matthew 25 is exactly what prompted Cossin to get involved with prison ministry – a calling he currently fulfills through St. Pius X Jail and Prison Ministry.

“Matthew 25:35-36 inspired me to add prison ministry to my volunteering activities a few years ago. ‘For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me,’” he explained.

Extending beyond general prayer and discussion, the ministry also facilitates religious services and Catholic educational material. Bible study and holy Communion is offered through the ministry.

“We pray at all the locations and discuss the Scriptures,” Bolstetter said.

Those interested in getting involved with the St. Pius X Jail and Prison Ministry can contact Bolstetter at [email protected]. More information on involvement can also be found on the ministry’s website,

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