logo-ascension-newThe Faith Formation Leader
For Immediate Release

Ascension Donates $338,000 in Bible Study Materials to Kolbe Prison Ministries: “Truly a Godsend”

[Exton, PA, January 18, 2024—]

2 years after the initial donation, Kolbe Prison Ministries reflects on the impact of the gift.  

“I was in prison, and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:36)

These words of Jesus Christ have echoed down the centuries of Catholic belief and practice. One lay Catholic organization answering this call of Christ is the Texas-based Kolbe Prison Ministries (KPM). This volunteer-run nonprofit organization has been offering Catholic retreats, classes, and catechesis to men and women serving time behind bars since 2009.

In March of 2022, Ascension connected with KPM to coordinate a donation of $338,000 worth of Bible study materials related to Ascension’s flagship Bible study: The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation, a 24-session program presented by Jeff Cavins. (pictured below)

Ascension learned about KPM from Mike “Gomer” Gormley, a popular Catholic evangelist who has a podcast with Ascension and volunteers with KPM in his home state of Texas. Gomer is an enthusiastic advocate for the importance of prison ministry. When Ascension found itself in a position to make a large donation of Bible study materials, the Pennsylvania-based publisher asked Gomer if any ministry might be willing to accept nearly 9,400 workbooks. KPM was able and eager to receive such a donation, and they had the sort of prison ministry footprint to ensure that the donated books would be distributed across multiple prison locations.

“The donation by Ascension has helped us fulfill our mission to share the agape love of Jesus Christ with those in prison and to teach the fullness of the truth found in the Catholic Church to the incarcerated,” said Gerald Gaenslen, KPM’s chairman and president. “Everyone who goes through the Bible Timeline with us has a greater insight into our faith through the Holy Bible.”

Jonathan Strate, Ascension’s president and CEO, adds: “We regularly receive handwritten letters from inmates asking for Bible study materials to strengthen their faith behind bars. We were delighted to connect with KPM and work with them to distribute these life-changing Bible studies to the incarcerated men and women who need them.”

KPM estimates that two-thirds of the 2022 donation have been distributed through KPM Bible studies and retreats over the past 2 years. The KPM core team working in a prison in North of Houston, for example, reports that they have nearly 400 inmates participating in Bible Timeline Bible studies with great success. Inmates share that thanks to the Bible Timeline, they now feel much more confident and able to respond to questions about the Catholic Faith and practice from fellow inmates of other faiths.

In His Own Words: An Inmate Reflects on the Ascension Bible Study Donation

The following is a letter from a US inmate who has been using the Ascension Bible study materials. This letter has been used with permission and edited for the anonymity of the author.

Grace and peace be upon you!

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone at Ascension Press for caring enough to bless us with the Bible Timeline resources given to us by way of Kolbe Prison Ministries. Without these resources, we would have no real guide to lead our discussions. Their generosity is truly appreciated.
At our prison in Texas, we have three groups who have benefited from the Bible Timeline materials. It was first introduced into our faith-based dorm of nearly 50 men. These men have a very wide range of religious beliefs and faith traditions.  Since our faith-based dorm does not have resources to cover the cost of classroom materials, having the Bible Timeline workbook and DVDs is truly a godsend.  These men are taking what they learn and reaching out to others in their living areas.  Truly being the hands and feet of Christ.  
Another study group at our prison consists of about 25 men and has led to open discussions with other Christians and dialogue with Muslims as well.  Now, when our Catholic brothers are bombarded with questions like “Where is that in Scripture?”, we have the knowledge and resources to give an informed and considerate response.  Because of the generosity of Ascension Press, we have another invaluable asset to further God’s kingdom inside the prison walls.  Thank you!

Viva Cristo Rey!

Kolbe Prison Ministries: Texan Roots, National Growth

Initially, Kolbe Prison Ministries served inmates exclusively in the state of Texas. Recently, their leadership team has discerned a call to bring KPM to other parts of the United States. They currently have core teams operating in Louisiana and Florida. KPM plans to expand into Oklahoma and Kansas in 2024.

“All of this is volunteer-led. We’d love to bring KPM to even more states, but what’s needed for that to happen is Catholic volunteers in those local areas to step up and be willing to answer this call of Christ to serve him among the incarcerated,” explains Kerry Johnston, a KPM board member.

To learn more about donating to KPM, how to pray for their ministry, or how to bring KPM to your local area, visit KolbePrisonMinistries.org.

About Kolbe Prison Ministries

Kolbe Prison Ministries (KPM) is a Catholic lay organization of men and women who volunteer to serve the incarcerated with 3-day retreats and follow-up education, including but not limited to RCIA and Bible studies.  Since 2009, KPM has brought many hundreds of retreats into prisons, serving in more than 60 facilities across several states, and is recognized by the USCCB by being listed in the Official Catholic Directory.

About Ascension 

Ascension is a multimedia network and the leader in Catholic faith formation and digital content. Over the past 25 years, Ascension has helped nurture the faith of over 10 million Catholics through award-winning books, the chart-topping Bible in a Year podcast, more than 50 unique faith formation programs, and Ascension Presents—the largest Catholic YouTube network in English.

Media Contact

To speak with Kerry Johnston, board member of Kolbe Prison Ministries, contact Leslie Rowe at Leslie@PrevishMarketing.com.