Forgiveness abounds: Volunteers offer strength for the journey

Each Thursday, a carload of St. Ann parishioners makes its way around Interstate 285 for an appointment. These Dismas Ministry volunteers seek to encourage, inspire and motivate people transitioning from incarceration back into normal life.  

“Everyone makes mistakes,” said Christine Holt, “some more severe than others. However, Christ demands that we all seek and give forgiveness.” 

For nearly 30 years, this St. Ann ministry has been facilitating weekly classes in areas such as GED prep, parenting and job searching for residents of Dismas Atlanta, named for the penitent thief crucified on Calvary with Jesus. Clients stay for up to six months and nearly 500 residents go through the center yearly, said Jo Simon, the ministry leader at St. Ann. The volunteers, she said, are a consistent reminder that there are people in the community who will be there for them.   

“I particularly enjoy the direct interaction with Dismas residents,” said Melise Etheridge. “I know we make an impact on their lives with our classes [because] many relay their success stories to us.  

“It’s a good feeling to know we are following Christ’s example by helping some of the most forgotten people in our society.”  

New volunteers are always welcome to come on a Thursday to learn more about Dismas House Ministry, Simon said, but they must be at least 21. To read more about this ministry, click HERE.

pictured: Dismas House Ministry volunteers enjoyed a Mass said by Archbishop Wilton Gregory at the transition facility.


The Catholic Church of St. Ann is a La Salette parish family dedicated to reconciliation through worship, word, works and sacrament.

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