Skip to main content

Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners

Block Builder

Joan Chittister Funds for Prisoners

Prisoners are the most forgotten people in society and the least served in Christianity. For all our sakes, I’d like to change that.  —Joan Chittister

You can change the life of a person in prison

The Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners was initiated in 2006 in response to numerous requests for spiritual materials from prison chaplains and individual prisoners. Each year over $60,000 worth of FREE publications by Sister Joan Chittister are sent to prison chaplains and volunteers ministering in 90 prisons across the United States. The Fund is in close contact with this network of chaplains who personally distribute the materials received. Individual requests from those in prison are also honored.


The Fund is especially intent on getting the monthly publication, The Monastic Way by Joan Chittister, into the prisons because chaplains find this interfaith resource ideal for personal and group reflection.


More than two million U.S. adults are currently in prison. That's nearly 1% of the entire U.S. population — almost one in every 100 of us — who will spend our lives behind bars. Thanks to your efforts, the Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners is the only help toward a meaningful life that many of these prisoners ever receive.

Your gift will impact the lives of those in prison through:

• Free Spiritual Materials

• Forming Spiritual Communities


Sister Joan and women who received materials from the Fund for Prisoners while incarcerated.

Free Spiritual Materials

Your support of the Fund for Prisoners since 2009 has enabled us to send over $500,000 worth of spiritual publications by Joan Chittister free to those in prison, to begin the kind of caring conversations that give people something to believe in and a sense of the presence of God in themselves. We work closely with a network of 90 prison chaplains and volunteers to insure that materials reach those in prison and are used effectively—in small discussion groups, retreats, journal classes, and for individual reflection and prayer.

The Monastic Way, a monthly publication by Joan Chittister, has become a staple of spiritual development in prisons from one end of this country to the other. Over 3,000 free subscriptions are mailed each month and prisons and prisoners everywhere are still begging for more. Prisoners write of their dependence on this little piece of beauty and reflection to stir their hearts and seed their souls.

The Joan Chittister Journal is the most requested item—over 50,000 have been sent to individual prisoners. With striking full-color photographs, comforting and challenging words by Joan Chittister and lots of writing room, the Journals provide a space where prisoners can pour out personal feelings, wrestle with private struggles, and trace their journeys to a healthier and more meaningful life.

The Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners is supported solely by individual donations.

Forming Spiritual Communities

The Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners also collaborates with Monasteries of the Heart and its effort to form small “monastic” communities in prison. Currently there are 12 such communities trying to implement values from the Rule of Saint Benedict into prison life.

By introducing the Benedictine concepts of stability, community, prayer, silence, conversion of life and nonviolence into the lives of prisoners, the thought of meaningless routine, uncomfortable schedules, random violence, and obedience could be transformed into sacred awareness; silence and the developmental effect of stability of place could result in self-knowledge and interior development. More than that, this program does what we all say we want to have happen in the penal system. It presents another way to live, another reason to be alive, another kind of human heart to strive for, and another vision of rehabilitation.

Ten percent of all donations received to the Joan Chittister Fund for Prisoners are designated to forming monastic communities in prisons and the Fund supplies all necessary spiritual materials, including the basic formation book, The Monastery of the Heart by Joan Chittister.