This national Catholic outreach among prisoners and those affected by crime is named after one of the people executed with Jesus on Calvary. In that final hour Dismas, also called the good thief, took stock of his life and turned to Jesus for mercy:
“Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom” Luke 23:42.
In the way so typical of his ministry, Jesus turned to him and said:
“This day you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43.
The cross of Christ and the cross of the repentant criminal are side by side.
Dismas Ministry focuses primarily on a spiritual approach with prisoners who want to understand and strengthen their relationship with God. As one of them wrote, “Prisoners need God and the love of Jesus and Mary as much or even more than the population as a whole.”
Prisoners who deepen their faith and grow in understanding of scripture will become less likely to offend others when they are released. For this reason, Dismas provides bible and faith study materials, a prayer book for prisoners, and free Catholic bibles. As Jesus taught us: “What you have received freely, give freely” Matthew 10:8.
Dismas Ministry also supports victims of crime by creating an awareness of their needs in the community. It does this in various ways: by providing literature about victims’ needs and resources for their care, special prayer services for victims in which they can find support from the faith community and mutual encouragement from their fellow victims. Victims can lead the way in showing us how to be there for them.