Fr. Fred FValone@SaintThomasHuntsville.org
David Prett 936-874-2435 DavidPrett@Aol.Com
Backup Coordinator(s): Mary Prett DavidPrett@Aol.com
Fritz Barnett* CVCA Antonio Carrillo Laura Carrillo Barbara Arlene Brisco
David Dekerlegand, Deacon Inquirant Rose Marie Slott Turner** Marsha L.
* Fritz Barnett CVCA (Certified Volunteer Chaplain’s Assistant-Wynne). Fritz is a veteran
prison minister who conducts a Eucharistic Service at the Wynne Unit on the 1st and 4th
Sundays of each month with Antonio and Laura Carrillo. Fritz has been doing this for many years and brings a great depth of knowledge and experience to our parish outreach ministry. Since 03/2016 we are coordinating ministries to jointly bring the message of “parish outreach/fellow parishioners” to the Catholic offender community.
**Rose Turner is retired veteran TDCJ Correctional Officer and brings a wealth of practical guidance on prison matters to our ministry.
Ministry Mission Statement:
Bring Christ's healing to everyone affected by crime and violence.
“The mission of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society, and assist victims of crime”.
We support this mission through sharing the Word, Holy Communion, Reconciliation, and celebrating the Holy Mass with the offenders as fellow parishioners of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Parish . We wish to bring a message of brotherhood/ sisterhood to the offenders as fellow parishioners of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in accordance with our parish credo “…there is no inequality of significance amongst us except holiness…”.
Father visits the prisons on the following schedule:
Wynne Unit on the 2nd Thursday of each month.
Walls Unit on the 3rd Saturday of each month.
Byrd Unit on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.
Holliday Unit on each Wednesday.
Father will hear Confessions for approximately one hour, followed by a celebration of
the Holy Mass.
David and Mary Prett and David Dekerlegand join Father on his Wynne visits.
Antonio and Laura Carrillo join Fritz Barnett of Sacred Heart, Conroe on the 1st and 4th Sundays of the month and perform a Eucharistic service at the Wynne Unit.
Roles & Responsibilities:
You can visit the Prisons as a “visitor” four times based upon a background check only. This background check is based upon your current driver’s license. This visitor status enables you to experience the prison system without undergoing any special training.
If you wish to attain “volunteer” status, with unlimited frequency of visits, you must
undergo TDCJ training. This training is offered at multiple locations throughout the
year and takes one half day to complete. You do not have to be in “visitor” status
before applying for “volunteer” status. You can complete the training without a
background check but your acceptance as a “volunteer” will depend on a background
check being then completed. You will be required to retrain each two years (online
training available but you must attend a training session in person each four years).
You must be 18 years old and free of any pending criminal charges.
For more complete information on all the above, including application for training,
and click on the “Volunteer” icon or you can contact
any of the (backup)coordinators or call the TDCJ Volunteer Services at 936-437-
Fourteen members in this ministry and many more are welcome.
See Section 7, # 24. “Prison Ministries”, and # 37. “The Oblates of Saint Benedict for
Prisoners” for other opportunities to serve.
- Recall our parish Mission/Vision credo that there is “no inequality amongst us that is significant except holiness” and act accordingly.
- Bring Mass, Holy Communion, Reconciliation and Catechesis to the incarcerated in the Huntsville area as often as possible and encourage those living and working in the Correctional System to live their lives and perform their work with Christ in their hearts. This will take various forms over time but will begin and end with a display of open hospitality.
- Be aware that you are within a high security prison system and dress and act appropriately.
- While Father is hearing Confessions you will have the opportunity to welcome and be fully present, physically and spiritually, with the offenders as they gather for Mass. You will find that this “presence” alone will have a powerful impact spiritually on both yourself and the offenders.
- Follow your own inner spiritual guidance on how to engage with individual inmates. Jesus will be powerfully present to guide you and trust in this guidance.
- Radiate hospitality and respond appropriately, responsibly and professionally, to the hospitality of both the guards and the offenders.
- Recognize the offenders as fellow parishioners of St. Thomas the Apostle and behave accordingly.
- Before your visit try to spend some time in personal reflection and prayer and ask for Our Lord’s guidance for your upcoming visit. Focus on your upcoming visit and try to eliminate distractions from this focus at least 1 hour prior to leaving home or office for your visit.
- After your visit try to set aside some private time to thank Our Lord for his guidance and pray and reflect deeply on your experience.
- Visiting the prisons can be a powerful experience. After your visit you may need some time to mentally/physically/ emotionally/spiritually decompress. Arrange your post prison visit schedule to allow for this and to take care of yourself.