St. Basil Prison Ministry

The prison ministry seeks to find Christ in the prisoner and his or her family. There are many ways to be involved in our ministry during the year:

  • Donate or volunteer during our yearly Angel Tree Christmas Gift drive for children of inmates
    • Correspond with a prisoner on an ongoing basis
    • Help prepare or serve our annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser

For more information about how you can participate in the prison ministry at St. Basil, please contact Pat Cole at or 773-252-8254.
Prison Facts

For millions of Americans, incarceration is a harsh reality:

  • 2.3 million Americans are behind bars.
    • Over half of prisoners are parents.
    • 2.7 million children have a parent in prison.
    • The United States is home to 5 percent of the world’s people and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.
    • One of 34 Americans is under some form of correctional supervision.
    • More than 700,000 prisoners return to our communities every year.
    • 40 percent of released prisoners will return to prison within three years.
    • One in four African American men will serve time in a state or federal prison.

Angel Tree Christmas Program

St. Basil’s prison ministry connects with families of incarcerated men and women through the Angel Tree Christmas program. Through this program, parishioners purchase and deliver gifts for local children on behalf of their incarcerated parent. There a lots of ways to help out with the ministry’s best-loved activity:

  • Buying gifts for children
  • Contributing Jewel Gift Cards for the caregivers of the children
  • Calling families to pin-point the most appropriate gifts for the children
  • Sorting the gifts by family
  • Sorting gifts by delivery
  • And most rewardingly, partnering to deliver the gifts to the families

Ministering by Mail

Prison ministry volunteers at St. Basil also sends cards to inmates and their families at Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day, and Fathers Day. In response to our efforts, we have received many heartfelt and moving letters from inmates and these usually are the start of an exchange of correspondence. Occasionally inmates requests books, and when we have the resources, we comply. Below are excerpts from a few such letters:

  • What a great joy it was to receive your letter, warm wishes, and prayers. I hope — that you realize how important your ministry is. It’s so very easy to remember the well-deserving who are in a desperate situation—the ailing child, the family which suffers a loss, a service member in harm’s way and separated from loved ones—and to support him or her with prayers. It’s, of course, human nature to be much more moved to pray for them than for criminals and my fellow high-profile ne’er-do-wells who are undeserving of society’s sympathy but are nonetheless desperate for some measure of redemption.
    –Mark, Taylorville Correctional Center
  • If it wasn’t for St. Basil Church, I wouldn’t have any mail coming in or no one thinking of me or my son. I am still fighting to be in my son’s life. It’s time for me to change my life—not just for me, but for him.
    –Donald, Western Illinois Correctional Center
  • I pray that I’d someday be in the position to give back to someone in need the way that you have extended your hand to me and my family. My focus is to make sure I come home from this the best man and best father that I can be. I’m optimistic that God will continue to transform me.–Eddie, Pinckneyville Correctional Center
  • The Christmas card and other cards you sent were a blessing to receive. They came at a time when I needed them most. I pray for you and your church.
    –Terrell, Sumner Correctional Center
  • The program that you provide for incarcerated parents is truly a blessing. I’ve  been incarcerated for almost a decade now, and this was the first time I received a card letting me know that they took care of the kids. It’s hard trying to be a father from prison.
    –Paul, Dixon Correctional Center
  • I have been in prison for five years. . . . It’s amazing that I was just sitting here thinking that no one cares about me, and all along I am in your prayers.
    –Comonte, Danville Correctional Center

If you would like to correspond with a prisoner (about one letter per month), contact Pat Cole at or 773-252-8254

Transitioning to the Community

The prison ministry also provides material assistance, such as clothes, to inmates, who we have corresponded with and are transitioning back to the community upon their release. We also try to provide moral support by sharing a meal, accompanying ex-prisoners to St. Basil services, or simply by keeping in touch. The biggest need of someone returning to the community is a job. If you own a company or work for a company that hires former prisoners please contact Steve Cole at or 312-493-4063.