For many years, Fr. Frank Wittouck, SCJ, served as a prison chaplain in Texas. He hoped to continue the ministry when he moved to Wisconsin last year, but COVID-19 closed prisons to most visitors, including new chaplains.
After a year of processing, Fr. Frank received clearance to serve at the Racine Correctional Institution, about a 30 minute drive south of Sacred Heart Monastery. Although there are other chaplains, he is the only Catholic priest at the facility (there is a Catholic deacon). Fr. Frank will go to the facility once a week to celebrate Mass and hear confessions.
“I’ve grown to have tremendous respect for these incarcerated guys,” said Fr. Frank in an article published on the Dismas Ministry blog in 2020. “I was an Army chaplain for 20 years, so naturally I understood the realities of a rule-oriented environment, which one finds in the Army but also in prison. I never realized it till just this very moment, but I was the stockade chaplain both in Korea and in Ft. Hood, so I guess my prison ministry experience started even earlier than I thought. Working with inmates has helped me be more patient, more tolerant, more positive. I don’t lecture them or anything – but I also don’t feed into their complaining, which there is, understandably, a lot of. I smile a lot. I have a habit of greeting the inmates with a smile and ‘Good morning.’ Prison ministry helped me get out of myself.”
Fr. Frank is retired and is a member of the Sacred Heart Monastery community.
Let the Priests of the Sacred Heart pray for your loved ones and intentions.