Moncton Community Chaplaincy is embarking on an exciting new housing project to provide safe and affordable accommodation for people following release from prison. The 20 new units will offer much needed housing to people in the vulnerable phase immediately after leaving prison who are less likely to succeed in living offense-free without a decent place to live.
Since 1980 the Moncton Community Chaplaincy has worked to increase community safety by meeting the spiritual, social, recreational and relational needs of people leaving prison and living in the greater Moncton area. Opened originally as a Friday evening drop-in Pierre Allard, then-Chaplain at the Dorchester Penitentiary, and his wife Judy, pioneered a movement that started the spread of community chaplaincy around the world.
Mennonite Central Committee Maritimes has been privileged to support Moncton Chaplaincy since 2000 as they worked to reconcile ex-offenders with God, with themselves and with their community.
The current Community Chaplain David Way has been connecting with MCC for the past 17 years. “My partnership with MCC started when I first became Community Chaplain in 2000 and had the privilege of being mentored and supported by the late Siegfried and Margaret Janzen, and it has continued with generous financial contributions from MCC from 2004 to the present. It is fair to say that Moncton Community Chaplaincy could not have carried on nor would be in the position of being able to move to the next level without the involvement of MCC in all aspects of our ministry,” he says.
MCC photo/Christina Dunfield
Over the past 13 years, MCC has supported Moncton Chaplaincy financially in their Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) program, their Reintegration Circles program and in their reintegration work more broadly. CoSA is a community-oriented, restorative-justice based reintegration program that assists people in their effort to re-enter society after a period of incarceration for a sexual offense.
These people, referred to as Core Members, participate in the program voluntarily and are not mandated by the judicial system. A “Circle” involves a group of three to five trained volunteers who support and hold accountable the Core Member who is more often than not labelled high risk to re-offend. A 2009 study by Robin Wilson, Franca Cortoni and Andrew McWhinnie, showed that sexual re-offence rates for men who participate in CoSA are 80 per cent lower than for men who do not. Many concerned citizens across Canada choose to volunteer with CoSA because they wish to do something concrete to prevent sexual offending in their communities.
By surrounding people leaving prison with caring and trained volunteers who hold core members accountable and are able to recognize and address those needs that can contribute to criminal behaviour, Moncton Chaplaincy has already been supporting ex-offenders for many years. In this new housing initiative, the Chaplaincy will be able to address the key risk factor of accommodation in a deeper way.
Courtesy of Moncton Chaplaincy
Reintegration Circles is based on the CoSA program, and provides individuals leaving prison with consistent positive relationships, social support, goal-setting and accountability as they strive to meet their goals. By having community members volunteer in these circles, the program also provides an important opportunity for people to express their concerns about welcoming people back into the community after they have been incarcerated.
Chaplain David Way affirms the importance of doing this work working in partnership with others. “Partnering with other organizations who share our vision for the safe reintegration of ex-offenders back into their communities is critical to our success. For example, we recently recruited and trained a group of volunteers from a local Baptist church who established a Reintegration Circle around an offender who is still incarcerated but is enjoying the support of a faith community which will continue once he is released.”
MCC Maritimes is privileged to be able to partner with Moncton Community Chaplaincy as they work to share God’s love with those who much of our larger society rejects and to increase community safety by reducing the impulses to re-offend. And we look forward to continuing to support them in this new housing project.
If anyone is interested in supporting the Chaplaincy in prayer, through volunteering or financially, you can learn more about their organization on the Moncton Chaplaincy Website.