Jesuit Ministers to Inmates at San Quentin

Jesuit Father George Williams

Jesuit Father George Williams, a member of the New England Province, has made prison ministry his calling for the past 15 years. He owes his priestly ministry to inmates — he began his work as a Jesuit brother, but inmates pleaded with him to offer the sacraments.

Fr. Williams served as chaplain at a medium-security state prison in Concord, Mass., and recently began work at San Quentin Prison in California.

“We are dealing with the most despised people in our country,” he said of his ministry.

Williams doesn’t expect to perform miracles, but does hope to have an impact at San Quentin, which has more than 5,000 inmates, including a death row.

He said that it’s easy to slip into cynicism or compassion fatigue. He also doesn’t expect that his preaching or counsel will transform the life of a convict. “I can’t fix people,” Williams  said. “Measuring success is sometimes to go to the funeral of a person you have confirmed and baptized. You can’t make them be happy or be free.”

Read more about Williams and other Jesuits engaged in prison ministry.

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