Presvytera Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She is the owner, designer and photographer of V’s Cardbox, In Service and Love. a greeting card company featuring cards with an Orthodox voice. She strongly feels that experiencing the Orthodox Faith through the church’s cyclical calendar of feasts and fasts is a gift that is too often overlooked.
Do you have your list ready? Which one? Perhaps you have a list of things to pack, things to gift, things to bake or things to clean. We all have a list this time of year. It’s a busy season.
Any why do we busy ourselves so frantically? We do it to make the holidays “just right.” We have expectations of what Christmas should be. We have expectations of how we will welcome in the New Year. And it’s all worth it!
But there are many who will have a different kind of Christmas than they could have ever planned for. They are the ones in prison and the family they leave behind: children are without parents, parents are without children, husbands are without their wives.
Christmas is truly the most difficult time of year for men and women living in prison. They long to be at home, rejoicing with family and friends. Many men and women who are incarcerated experience great sorrow and depression this time of year.
We may not be able to reunite those in prison with their families on Christmas Day, but we can do something else: We can let them know that they are not forgotten.
To offer comfort for those imprisoned, OCPM sends—icons, prayer books, Orthodox Study Bibles, devotional books, and more. They strive to let men and women in prison know that they are prayed for, cared for and remembered.
As we recognize our desire to celebrate Christ’s birth, it is also a good time to remember Christ’s description of those who enter heaven and those who don’t. Matthew 25:35-36
I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Christ didn’t forget them, and I pray we don’t either.
- OCPM ministers to nearly 1,000 men and women who are in prison or who have recently been released. Many have embraced the Orthodox Faith, while others who were already Orthodox found their way back to The Church.
- Five men have been tonsured Orthodox monks in prison and several others have become Iconographers.
- There are currently over 300 Orthodox catechumens in jails and prisons across America.
- Many of the men and women whose lives have been touched by OCPM are now out of prison and leading productive, Christ-centered lives as active members of their local parishes.
- OCPM has published 8 books and distributed more than one million copies to prisons.
- Over two million icon prayer cards have been printed and distributed.
- OCPM ministers monthly to more than 300 homeless and needy people, including families of those in prison.
- OCPM sends more than 5,000 personal letters to those in prison each year offering them spiritual guidance and hope.
The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN PRISON MINISTRY (OCPM) is the official prison ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America with the goal to bring the love of Christ to those who are in prison by providing encouragement, material support, transition and reintegration services, Christian education, spiritual guidance and the sacramental life of the Church.
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