Prisoner receives Sacrament of Confirmation Print this post

Bob Reddy (Florida Catholic)


Julio Juan Guerra-Molina, who took the Confirmation name of St. John Bosco, is the latest of dozens of inmates in correctional facilities throughout the Diocese on whom Bishop Frank J. Dewane has bestowed the Sacrament of Confirmation since his appointment to the Diocese of Venice in 2006.

It was on July 18 when Bishop Dewane travelled to the chapel at the DeSoto Correctional Institution in Arcadia and celebrated Mass. The Sacramental Rite is identical to the hundreds of confirmations the Bishop does at parishes each year.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane.

The role of a Confirmation is to perfect baptismal grace; incorporating the faithful more firmly into Christ and the Church. During the rite, Bishop Dewane makes the sign of the cross on the forehead with holy chrism, a seal of the Holy Spirit marking a confirmandi for service to Christ and guarantees them the protection of God. Through the Sacrament, the recipient commits to becoming a full Catholic by seeking out knowledge and growing in their Faith.

Bishop Dewane notes that while younger children are often nervous about receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, prisoners have a certain resolve that reflect their true understanding of the significance of the moment, they are not nervous but anticipatory.

The Mass was concelebrated by Father Vincent Clemente, Pastor of St. Paul Parish in Arcadia, and Father Sean Mulcahy, a retired priest, both of whom regularly celebrate Mass at the facility.

When celebrating Mass at correctional facilities Bishop Dewane brings a message of mercy, forgiveness and hope, reminding the incarcerated that they should never allow themselves to be closed in by their past, but rather to transform the past “into a journey of growth, faith and charity. And to pray always!!!”

Pope Francis, who often stresses the need for the world to remember the incarcerated, told prisoners in 2016 to “always be certain that God loves you personally… always keep lit the light of the hope of faith to illuminate your lives.”

To this end, Bishop Dewane makes a specific point to celebrate Mass for inmates during Advent and Lent as close to Easter and Christmas as possible, as this is when the inmates are most lonely. In recent years, the Bishop has also made a point to celebrate Mass at Hardee Correctional Institute on Holy Thursday. There he washes the feet of inmates, in a symbolic gesture as Jesus did for His disciples before his crucifixion.

It is through the support of the Prison Outreach that volunteers share God’s love and mercy in the 23 jails/prisons throughout the Diocese; they include lay volunteers, deacons and priests. Each according to their calling provides for the pastoral needs of the inmates, sometimes their only connection to the outside world and their faith, sometime leading to the Sacraments of First Holy Communion, Penance and Confirmation. These dedicated men and women are committed to helping a segment of the Faith which is often marginalized by society, explained Prison Outreach Volunteer Coordinator Bob Hiniker.

The July 18 Mass was the 19th such Mass Bishop Dewane has celebrated at the DeSoto Correctional Institute since 2006. This total does not include the many Masses celebrated by Bishop Dewane and priests at other county and state correctional facilities throughout the Diocese

As part of the outreach, Hiniker explained that there is an emphasis on reminding all prisoners that they are part of the Universal Church, the Diocese of Venice and most importantly the local parish. “We want them to feel a part of the Parish and community of Catholics.”

The Prison Outreach Program is a vital effort for those who are often marginalized by society, Hiniker explained. The Outreach provides a variety of additional services, including Bible study, religious education and much more.

More volunteers are always needed for this important outreach. Those interested do not need previous experience working with inmates and will be paired with experienced volunteers.

For information about how to volunteer at a correctional institute in your area, please contact Robert Hiniker at 863-558-0407 or

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