Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

prison-folks_2845Gesuina and Walter Seibert (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

ENFIELD – What started as a penance after confession has blossomed into long-term labor of love for a husband and wife who hope others will join their efforts.

"To whom much is given, much is expected," said Walter Seibert, by way of explaining why he and his wife Gesuina make up the Prison Ministry of Northern Connecticut.

For the past 15 years, the Seiberts, both septuagenarians, have been involved in prison ministry, which brings prisoners of different faiths together with volunteers. They travel to correctional facilities in Suffield and Enfield three times a week to share their faith with inmates.

Both products of Catholic education, Walter and Ges, as she is known, say the ministry has fortified their faith. Although they describe their sharing of the faith as "Catechism 101," they are challenged by the questions inmates ask.

"We’ve had to answer questions that we never had to look at before because we just took things on faith. But a lot of these guys say, ‘I don’t want to know based upon faith, I want an answer to that,’" Walter said. "So we go back and look up the Church’s teaching."

The Seiberts’ ministry is funded entirely by the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.

"Last year we got a $2,500 grant from that, and thank God," said Walter, adding that the money is used primarily to buy Bibles and catechisms in English and Spanish.

"We are so blessed," said Ges. "If somebody had told me, ‘One day, you’re going to enjoy going to prison,’ I would have said, ‘You’re out of your mind.’"The Seiberts, who have been married for 55 years, live at St. Joseph’s Residence, a home for the elderly run by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

They met on a blind date in college in the 1950s, were married in New York during a hurricane and "have done everything together ever since," said Ges with an infectious laugh.

Walter said when he was in business as a certified public accountant and Ges was raising their three children, they often thought, "God wants us to do something with our faith because we had been given so much, and we kept asking, ‘Lord, what do you want us to do?’ And no matter what we put our hands to," such as teaching religious education and other volunteerism, "nothing seemed to gel."

In 1996, Deacon Rene Kieda, then the Catholic chaplain at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, put a notice into the St. Martha Parish bulletin for people to help with the prison ministries program

Walter said he thanked God for not calling him to that ministry.

Two weeks later, when the Walter and Ges were at Mass, Deacon Robert Bernd talked about his involvement with the ministry.

Walter said he again thanked God for not calling him to that ministry.

Shortly after that, Walter said, when he went to confession, the priest told him to read Matthew 25 as a penance. It was the line "[For I was] in prison and you visited me" that shaped the couple’s future.

They started by visiting MacDougall-Walker and Carl Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield every two weeks.

Now, they visit MacDougall-Walker twice a week and Carl Robinson weekly. They are there for about two hours, and their visits attract anywhere from several to 30 inmates. They show the men videos about the saints or the faith, talk about whatever topics the men raise, and are on hand for regular holy hours, eucharistic services (both are extraordinary ministers of holy Communion) and inmate-led rosaries and Divine Mercy Chaplets.

"The basic attitude we’re going in with is that Jesus is love, and we want to be vessels of his love," said Walter. "We want to restore their God-given dignity and let them know that the Lord loves them unconditionally.

"We have found so many men who are trying to turn their lives around," said Walter. They aim to make the Catholic faith a vital part of the men’s lives.

Walter and Ges have witnessed conversions to the faith. Ges also participated in several baptisms as the godmother of several inmates.

They shared parts of notes, cards and letters they have received from inmates over the years.

"My reason for writing is … to say thank you for being such caring and loving people. You and your wife show me how love can make people live a happy life, and how Christ works through people who believe," wrote one man.

Another wrote, "The prison system can’t change who you are. You must do that for yourself, and through programs like this one, it can be possible to make a change in each of our lives."

"I am in a six-month addiction program. I have a room all to myself where I can work on myself and pray and read," wrote another. "I am so blessed, I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for turning my will over to the care of God."

Walter confessed that there are times that they are tempted to skip a visit. "But, it’s very fulfilling work. They come out better and we come out better. When we come out, we’re walking on air," he said.

The couple said more lay Catholics should get involved in prison ministries. Again borrowing from the Bible, Walter said, "The laborers are few and the harvest is so ripe."

Events Calendar

April 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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07:00 PM
St. Ann Church, New Britain, New Britain, United States
Saint Ann Church in New Britain will present its annual Passion Play at 7 p.m. April 11 and 18 and at 5 [...]
Date :  April 11, 2014
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13
04:00 PM
Planned Parenthood, Enfield, Enfield, United States
Concerned Citizens 4 Life  will hold a series of peaceful prayer vigils in front of the new Planned [...]
05:00 PM
St. Ann Church, New Britain, New Britain, United States
Saint Ann Church in New Britain will present its annual Passion Play at 7 p.m. April 11 and 18 and at 5 [...]
Date :  April 13, 2014
14
04:00 PM
Planned Parenthood, Enfield, Enfield, United States
Concerned Citizens 4 Life  will hold a series of peaceful prayer vigils in front of the new Planned [...]
Date :  April 14, 2014
15
04:00 PM
Planned Parenthood, Enfield, Enfield, United States
Concerned Citizens 4 Life  will hold a series of peaceful prayer vigils in front of the new Planned [...]
Date :  April 15, 2014
16
04:00 PM
Planned Parenthood, Enfield, Enfield, United States
Concerned Citizens 4 Life  will hold a series of peaceful prayer vigils in front of the new Planned [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Pompeii Church, East Haven, East Haven, United States
The annual Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help that began on March 5 continues at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at [...]
Date :  April 16, 2014
17
04:00 PM
Planned Parenthood, Enfield, Enfield, United States
Concerned Citizens 4 Life  will hold a series of peaceful prayer vigils in front of the new Planned [...]
08:00 PM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
Commemoration of the Lord’s Supper
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
The Path of Transformation, a Holy Week Triduum Retreat for Men and Women, will take place April 17-19 at [...]
Date :  April 17, 2014
18
03:00 PM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
Commemoration of the Lord's Passion
04:00 PM
Planned Parenthood, Enfield, Enfield, United States
Concerned Citizens 4 Life  will hold a series of peaceful prayer vigils in front of the new Planned [...]
05:00 PM
St. Ann Church, New Britain, New Britain, United States
Saint Ann Church in New Britain will present its annual Passion Play at 7 p.m. April 11 and 18 and at 5 [...]
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
07:30 PM
St. Frances Cabrini Church, North Haven, North Haven, United States
The Living Stations of the Cross will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Good Friday at St. Frances Cabrini [...]
07:30 PM
St. Catherine of Siena Church, West Simsbury, Simsbury, United States
WEST SIMSBURY – Christ’s Seven Last Words, proclaimed as he hung upon the Cross on the first Good [...]
12:00 AM
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
The Path of Transformation, a Holy Week Triduum Retreat for Men and Women, will take place April 17-19 at [...]
Date :  April 18, 2014
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04:00 PM
Planned Parenthood, Enfield, Enfield, United States
Concerned Citizens 4 Life  will hold a series of peaceful prayer vigils in front of the new Planned [...]
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
11:00 AM
Raffia Shopping Plaza, Enfield, Enfield, United States
ENFIELD – “Baby Steps,” the annual family walk for life, will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. [...]
12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
The Path of Transformation, a Holy Week Triduum Retreat for Men and Women, will take place April 17-19 at [...]
Date :  April 19, 2014
20
04:00 PM
Planned Parenthood, Enfield, Enfield, United States
Concerned Citizens 4 Life  will hold a series of peaceful prayer vigils in front of the new Planned [...]
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
12:00 AM
Date :  April 20, 2014
21
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
Date :  April 21, 2014
22
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
Date :  April 22, 2014
23
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06:00 PM
Mercy Hall, University of St. Joseph, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
WEST HARTFORD – The Art Gallery at the University of St. Joseph (USJ) will present the 2014 Vincenza Uccello Fine Arts Lecture featuring [...]
07:00 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
Full of Grace: Gentle Yoga and Centering Prayer will meet for seven Wednesdaysat the Caritas Christi [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Pompeii Church, East Haven, East Haven, United States
The annual Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help that began on March 5 continues at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at [...]
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
Date :  April 23, 2014
24
07:00 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
Dr. Tim Gray's study of the Gospel of Luke expliains the fundamental themes of Jesus' messianic mission. [...]
07:00 PM
St. Brigid Parish, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
The St. Brigid Ladies Guild annual Monte Carlo Whist Party will be held at 7 p.m. April 24 in St. Brigid [...]
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
12:00 AM
St. Martha School, Enfield, Enfield, United States
St. Martha School in Enfield will hold an open house on Thursday, April 24, from 10-11:30 a.m. and 6:30-8 p.m. Tours will be conducted; and teachers, students, parents of students and administrators will [...]
Date :  April 24, 2014
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06:30 PM
Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
An international food, wine and beer tasting will be held to benefit Immaculate Conception Shelter and [...]
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
Date :  April 25, 2014
26
04:00 PM
Connor Chapel, University of St. Joseph
HARTFORD – Chorus Angelicus & Gaudeamus will join the combined choirs of St. Patrick-St. Anthony [...]
06:30 PM
St. Mary School, Newingtonn, Newington, United States
St. Mary School in Newington will host its annual wine and beer tasting event from 6:30-9:30 pm. March 1. [...]
06:30 PM
St. Mary School, Newingtonn, Newington, United States
St. Mary School's annual wine tasting and auction will take place from 6:30-9:30 p.m. April 26. The event will be hosted by NBC TV personality Brad Field.  Some of the items to be [...]
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
07:30 PM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, will present music and prayer for the Easter seaso at 7:30 p.m. [...]
09:00 AM
St. Monica Church, Northford, Northford, United States
NORTHFORD – St. Monica's Rosary Society will have its spring craft fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26 [...]
09:00 AM
St. Mary-St. Michael School, Derby, Derby, United States
DERBY – Back by popular demand, organizers say, St. Mary-St. Michael School will sponsor a community shred day from 9 a.m. to noon April 26 at the school, located at 14 Seymour Ave.  Eco Shred [...]
09:30 AM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
"Making Friends with the False Self," a contemplative prayer program, will be presented by Father Bill [...]
Date :  April 26, 2014
27
02:30 PM
St. Ann Church, Bristol, Bristol, United States
St.  Ann Church in Bristol will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday on April 27 with a Mass at 2:30 p.m. [...]
03:00 PM
Mary Our Queen Church, Plantsville, Southington, United States
Divine Mercy Holy Hour - Mary Our Queen Church, Southington, 3-4 p.m. April 27th.  Benediction, Homily, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Veneration of relic of St. [...]
03:00 PM
Legion of Christ Seminary, Cheshire, Cheshire, United States
A Divine Mercy Holy Hour will be held at 3 p.m. April 27 at the Legion of Christ Seminary in Cheshire. It [...]
04:00 PM
St. Michael Church, Litchfield CT
HARTFORD – Chorus Angelicus & Gaudeamus will join the combined choirs of St. Patrick-St. Anthony [...]
07:00 PM
St. Margaret Mary Church, South Windsor, South Windsor, United States
A Novena for Divine Mercy will be held at St. Margaret Mary Church beginning at 7 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will [...]
12:45 PM
Charter Oak Cultural Center/Riverfront Mortensen Plaza, Hartford, United States
NEW HAVEN – The Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry (OCSJM) of the Archdiocese of Hartford, in [...]
Date :  April 27, 2014
28
29
07:00 PM
Farmington, United States
"Resurrection:  How can we respond to the needs of today and bring new life to ourselves and our world?" Deacon Art Miller, director of the Office for Black Catholic Ministries for the [...]
09:00 AM
Farmington, United States
"Resurrection:  How can we respond to the needs of today and bring new life to ourselves and our world?" Deacon Art Miller, director of the Office for Black Catholic Ministries for the [...]
Date :  April 29, 2014
30
07:00 AM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
HAMDEN – Caritas Christi Center will sponsor a day bus trip to St. Joseph the Worker Shrine in Lowell, [...]
07:00 PM
St. Anthony Parish Center, New Haven, New Haven, United States
The St. Anthony Society of St. Anthony Parish will have its 37th annual raffle and card party at 7 p.m. April 30 in [...]
07:00 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
Full of Grace: Gentle Yoga and Centering Prayer will meet for seven Wednesdaysat the Caritas Christi [...]
09:00 AM
Farmington, United States
"Resurrection:  How can we respond to the needs of today and bring new life to ourselves and our world?" Deacon Art Miller, director of the Office for Black Catholic Ministries for the [...]
09:00 AM
Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Plainville, Plainville, United States
Our Lady of Mercy Parish will offer a five-part program for lay Catholics titled “We the People of [...]
Date :  April 30, 2014

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