Detention (Jail) Ministry

Our mission is to communicate the Good News of God’s unconditional love to those incarcerated. We affirm each person, not necessarily their behavior, and invite them to grow as sons and daughters of God. We recognize that we will be called to deeper conversion through our interactions with those in detention. We strive to do our work beginning at the institution and extending to the church outside. We recognize our responsibility to educate those who have not experienced the offender as a valuable individual. We see our mission not as an act of charity but as a living of the central mission of the Gospel.

Detention Ministry at the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea involves offering spiritual and emotional assistance to the inmates (and their families) detained at the Monroe County Detention Center, located on Stock Island.  Although most of our volunteers visit the Detention Center on a regular basis, that is not a requirement of becoming part of this valuable ministry.

Currently, ministers visit the women twice each week: once on Tuesday afternoons and then once again on Friday afternoons. Our ministry with the men takes place on Thursday evenings.

Some of the many ways in which volunteers are involved in Detention Ministry here at the Basilica include: facilitating Mass and Communion services for visiting clergy; conducting Bible studies and/or weekly faith sharing sessions; sacramental preparedness classes, participation in our annual Christmas caroling and gift distribution program, praying for the prisoners, victims, volunteers and their ministry; assisting offenders in their transition to the community; assisting families of victims in our parish and reaching out to inmate’s families through prayer and material support.

Prior to providing any direct services at the Detention Center, volunteers are invited to attend a one-day ministerial formation session (sponsored by the Archdiocese of Miami) and a one-day training session required by the Detention Center. A background check and fingerprinting must also be completed before volunteers can provide direct services at the Detention Center. Please also know that volunteers are never required to provide direct services at the Detention Center without a ministry co-coordinator accompanying them on their visit.

If you are interested in joining this ministry, or in obtaining more information on how you can help, please contact: Brenda Callahan at 410 703 8211 or email her directly at