Loyola University Chicago

Ignatian Heritage Month

2022 Recipient

Kolbe House Jail Ministry receives 2022 Martyrs Award

Our Mission

We, Kolbe House, are the Catholic jail ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

We strive to be welcoming and hospitable to people of all cultures and backgrounds who wish to gather in prayer and ministry. Our ministry begins with listening, and so we create an environment where everyone’s stories are welcomed and honored.

We are a worshiping community comprised of men, women, and children who have been impacted by incarceration. We give witness to the healing power of God and are motivated by the gospel mandate, “I was in prison and you visited me.”

We are a community of believers who have been marked by incarceration and embrace a ministry of presence, compassion, and hope.

We commit ourselves to prayer and to challenge injustices where we see them and strive for peace and reconciliation.

Four Pillars

We recognize the dignity of each person as a daughter or son of the Father, in Jesus Christ — guilt or innocence aside. We listen without passing judgment, offer consistent accompaniment, and share the Good News that God has plans not to harm, but to give each person a hope and a future.

The modern criminal justice system seeks to isolate perpetrators and punish them for crimes committed. Our Catholic faith offers an alternative: reconciliation. As Jesus reconciles us to each other and to the Father through the cross, we seek to reconcile the human bonds that have been broken by sin.

We promote a vision of restorative justice, which brings together and considers the needs of perpetrators, victims, families, and community in order to make progress toward true repentance, forgiveness, and healing.

This local community serves the entire Archdiocese as a spiritual sanctuary for all those affected by the criminal justice system. We believe that each person reflects the image and likeness of God and is called to belong to the Body of Christ. We are a center of hospitality and spiritual warmth, a holy ground where all feel safe and welcomed.

We not only listen to the stories of those we meet in jail but offer the entire Catholic community throughout the Archdiocese opportunities for education and relationship. Contact us to learn how your parish can join in the mission of Kolbe House.

We also work together with restorative justice and peace initiatives in our neighborhood and across the state to reduce violence, build stronger families and communities, and advocate for a more just criminal justice system.

What We Do

In-jail ministry. Priest, religious and lay volunteers from across the Archdiocese visit Cook and Lake County jails to provide prayer and communion services and one-on-one pastoral ministry. This ministry is guided by our pillar of presence, in that we seek to accompany and encourage each person in their journey through detention. On this journey it is God who comes close to us, rather than we who find God. In a non-judgmental way we seek to facilitate detainees’ openness to that encounter. We also share materials such as daily devotionals, Bibles, and greeting cards with stamps when appropriate.

Family ministry. We provide pastoral accompaniment for families with a loved one in jail. We also provide emergency assistance when necessary and help them connect to resources like public aid, counseling, and community support. We maintain a small food pantry to benefit these families.

Re-entry ministry. Our location just two blocks from Cook County jail allows us to meet immediate needs of individuals when they are released, including food, CTA passes, clothing, and connections with housing and other support. We seek to build long-term relationships with individuals or connect them with meaningful long-term support communities. 

Restorative justice. We seek points of connection for all those affected by incarceration, including detainees and their families, victims of crime and their families, individuals working in corrections or criminal justice, and community members. One of our main events is a Mass of Reconciliation every Friday at 5 p.m., followed by a potluck meal on the first Saturday of each month to create a safe space for building relationships.