Who is a chaplain?
A Catholic chaplain can be a priest, religious sister, deacon, or layperson. Chaplains are leaders in sharing the traditions, practices and ministry of the Church in the unique setting of a prison or jail. Chaplains believe in and advocate for restorative justice practices, both inside and outside the prison walls.
The chaplain is an employee of the State of California. Candidates are evaluated by an Associate Warden of the facility and by the local Diocesan Restorative Justice Director. All applicants MUST be in good standing with the church and must be endorsed by the bishop of the diocese where the institution is located.
What do chaplains do?
The Chaplaincy Principles approved by the California Conference of Catholic Bishops guide chaplains in their work.
- Conduct and arrange for religious services, sacraments, Bible study and faith sharing groups
- Pastoral counseling
- Crisis intervention for inmates, their families and staff
- Recruit, train and supervise volunteers
- Build a positive working relationship with nearby vicariates and parishes
- Visit inmates in protective custody, lockdown units, or other segregated areas
- Advocate for the dignity of every human being and for fair, appropriate policies in the institution
- Nurture interreligious cooperation among pastoral staff
- Support Restorative Justice activities in the state
- Help inmates and families prepare for re-entry into the community
- Participate in trainings and other events for chaplains sponsored by the California Catholic Conference
How do I explore whether this is my calling?
- Contact the Restorative Justice Director for your Diocese to find out about opportunities to serve.
- Volunteer at a local facility.