On September 15, 2021 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service approved competencies for minister formation and certification for Catholic pastoral care in prison ministries and for Certified Catholic Correctional Chaplains. In my role as Director of Certification for Ecclesial Ministry at the USCCB, it has been a privilege to work with colleagues in the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition (CPMC) and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) as they in turn have worked with the USCCB subcommittee to develop these innovative and comprehensive competencies, which will help prepare Catholics across the country for the vital work of providing spiritual care for those who are incarcerated or affected by incarceration in any way, including those in immigrant detention. They also help educate about the many inequities and injustices in our current criminal justice system and prepare ministers to engage those within the system, Catholics and the broader public in advocating for a system that is more in line with the demands of restorative justice and Catholic social teaching. I am immensely proud the work of so many pastoral caregivers, experts, clergy and laity, Catholic prison chaplains and others who helped produce these competencies and grateful to the USCCB subcommittee for their support and approval of these competencies which will be used to support priests, deacons, and lay women and men involved in this chaplaincy and pastoral care work.
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