Brothers and Sisters in Brown
I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
October 10, 2007
Dale S. Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed
Florida Catholic Bishops’ Campaign against the Death Penalty

Dale S. Recinella and Dr. Susan M. Recinella are the featured speakers in this program on the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty in America. The Bishops of Florida have approved this series of presentations to educate Catholics and interested others about Church teaching on the death penalty. Attendance by catechists, educators, Respect Life coordinators, and Peace and Justice Committee members is particularly encouraged. The program will be offered in every diocese in Florida during 2007. At the following two locations, books will be available for purchase and signing.

Diocese of Venice
Saturday, October 27, 2007
1:30-4:30 p.m.
St. Ann Hall, Bishop Nevins Academy
4380 Fruitville Road
Sarasota, Florida
Contact: Marina Kopko (941) 441-1112
Sheila Hopkins (Florida Catholic Conference): (850) 205-6826 or

Dale Recinella will be speaking on Catholic Teaching and the Realities of the American Death Penalty from Up Close at the following forums (books will be available for purchase and signing):

Statewide Florida Respect Life Conference
Saturday October 13, 2007
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Quorum Hotel
700 N. Westshore Blvd.
Tampa, Fl 33609
Contact: Sabrina Burton (727) 344-1611
Sheila Hopkins (Florida Catholic Conference): (850) 205-6826 or

Brothers and Sisters in Brown
By: Dale Recinella

Father Aldrich was no pansy.

His towering Teutonic frame dominates my memories of Franciscan minor seminary. He was passionate about Truth.

"What is the most important job a friar can have in this monastery?" he asked one morning.

"Guardian," blurted one classmate.

"Disciplinarian," offered the next.

"Cook," guessed another.

"Wrong," Fr. Aldrich shook off each offering like a catcher waiving off signs from a rookie pitcher. Finally, we could guess no more. It seemed we had exhausted the list.

"It is Brother Porter. Brother Porter sets the tone for the whole monastery every day. His smile and gentle manner can make the day a pleasant one for every person here. His is the most important task of them all. A holy Porter can make this a holy building."

We were sure he was joking. None of us had even thought to include the gentle brown-clad Friar whose duty was to open the doors to chapel, to chow, to study hall, to guests. Truth eludes the undiscerning eye—especially Truth hidden in plain sight.

As many doors as there were in the monastery, there were far fewer than the number of doors in a Florida prison. And, at every single locked prison door is stationed a corrections officer, a Brother or Sister Porter dressed in brown. They are the first ones to greet me at the entrance to each building, each yard, each wing.

The sergeant at the prison entrance is responsible for every single person or article that moves in or out of that prison all day long. The stories of weapons and escape paraphernalia ingeniously smuggled into prisons are legion. Yet he never fails to greet each of us warmly, even encouragingly. When asked how he maintains an upbeat attitude in the face of constant stress, he smiles: "I believe in the power of positive thinking. You all have a good day.”

The officer with the key for the fence tunnel to death row must make a few hundred foot trips per day from the guard shack to the gate. Rain. Heat. It doesn’t matter. Yet, he’s always glad to be of help, always has a friendly word. At the other end of the tunnel is the building control officer. She never fails to smile and wish each of us a good morning.

The wing officers are inundated with routine tasks. Endless paperwork is the least of it. Nurses must be escorted, inmates pulled for showers, psychiatric or medical appointments. Food and cleaning articles must be distributed, laundry collected. In the middle of it all, I show up to distribute Communion.

"Good afternoon, chap," smiles the wing sergeant. "Thank you for coming today."

On entering another wing, I ask if it’s a good time. "Anytime you come to bring God to these men is a good time,” responds the desk officer warmly.

The higher the level of wing security, the greater is the imposition of my presence on the workday of the officers. One wing requires an officer to be physically with me the entire time. If several men need to talk or pray, that can chew up valuable time from the officer’s day.

"I’m sorry this took so long,” I apologize to the officer who has patiently escorted me through a very high security wing. "It seemed like every single man was trying to connect with God today."

"I’m not surprised,” he smiles back. "I’m not just standing here observing, you know. I’m praying for you and each man as you talk. It’s incredible to watch my prayers being answered just a few feet away!”

Some days I wonder if gatekeepers like these could even turn a Florida prison into a holy place.

First published: The Florida Catholic, November 9, 2000.
© 2000 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.

I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.

Your name and information will never be used or sha#3333FF with anyone. We promise!

Dale S. Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed

If you Like this Weekly Ezine - You will love Dale's Book!
Sr. Patricia Proctor
Paperback: 433 pages

Excellent book on the topic!,
June 13, 2005 Nathan Eanes
(Review from

The Biblical Truth about America's Death Penalty is a must-read. It deals with Biblical standards of Capital Punishment and then compares them to the system used in America today. It is the best-researched, most faithful to scripture, and most evenhanded analysis I have ever read concerning the Death Penalty. Whatever your persuasion on the issue, this book will teach you a great deal. Recinella is a trained lawyer and committed Christian who now volunteers part-time on Florida's death row. He thus understands law, the Bible, and the system of execution in America. I challenge anyone who supports the Death Penalty to read this book.

This ezine edited by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC - Poor Clare Sister
to support the IWasInPrison Outreach