Mackerel Snappers
I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
February 13, 2008
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
Upcoming Events:

Scripture, Catholic Teaching and the Realities of the American Death Penalty
Dale S. Recinella
Monday February 18th
7:30 pm - TEXAS
St. Gabriel the Archangel
110 St. Gabriel Way
McKinney, TX 75071
For information, contact: Kay Leonard ph. (214) 544-1669 or email:

Catholic Teaching and the Realities of the American 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 presentation is a condensed version of the program approved by the Bishops of Florida and offered during 2007 in every diocese in Florida to educate Catholics and interested others about Church teaching on the death penalty.
Dale’s book, The Biblical Truth about America’s Death Penalty, will be available for purchase and signing.
Monday March 31st - FLORIDA
7 – 8:30 pm in the Parish Hall
Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church
8523 Normandy Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32221
For information, contact Ms.Peg Baker ph. (904) 477-7252 or email:

Mackerel Snappers
By: Dale Recinella

It’s not even spring but the mercury is pushing eighty at high noon.

Today my prison rounds start at the Work Camp. The men here are hoping to go home soon. Unlike the inmates locked in solitary confinement, these men demonstrate no mental illness or gross behavior problems. They are articulate, focused and hoping to turn their lives in new directions when they leave prison in a matter of months. Compared to solitary or death row, one could actually call the minimum-security camp a reservoir of hope.

By 9:15 am, we are inside the chapel library of the Work Camp. The Protestant service, housed in the chapel sanctuary, is filled with over 100 men. Our little Catholic service consists of seven inmates—mostly from places very foreign to rural north Florida. New England, Miami, Tampa, Puerto Rico. Centers of large Catholic populations. The men are seated around a brown folding table. We begin with an hour of instruction before the Communion service.

“Man,” exclaims one fellow in exasperation, “What is the deal about being Catholic in this part of Florida? I can’t believe what I hear about our faith here! I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

As he speaks, the other men are nodding and shaking their heads in agreement with his dismay.

“Welcome to the deep south of extreme north Florida,” I laugh. “The two great historical moments that are still fermenting here are the Civil War and the Reformation.”

“Is it because we are surrounded by small towns?”

“No. I wish it were that simple. When I moved to Tallahassee in 1986, the medium-sized city that is the capital of the State of Florida, America’s fourth largest state, Catholics told me that the main Christian bookstore had just moved Catholic materials from the occult section to a neutral shelf.”

“It’s unbelievable,” a fellow with a thick Boston accent interjects. “You ought to hear what we’ve got to listen to about Lent and Ashes. You’d think we were worshipping Satan.”

“It’s not just here,” I caution him. “In Tallahassee I practiced law and represented the county on several major projects. One year, I went straight from receiving ashes at the co-Cathedral to a meeting at the county offices. As we took our seats around the meeting table, a senior county staff member lashed out at me, ‘Our lawyer has dirt on his face. The least we could do is have a lawyer who can wash his face!’”

“What did you do?”

“I explained the meaning of the ashes, penance and acknowledgement of our sinfulness before God. Also, I cited the strong Biblical tradition of wearing ashes as an outward sign that we are dust, creatures. Ashes show we are aware of our dependence upon God for even our very breath.”

“What did he do?”

“He cursed me for being a g-d mackerel snapper and expressed his opinion that the county should have been able to do better in hiring outside counsel. He was of course using an old derogatory term for Catholics because we eat fish on Fridays in Lent.”

“What did you do?”

“I simply said that his stereotype was unfair because I prefer red snapper, so that makes me a snapper snapper.”

“How do we stop this?” asks the fellow who started the discussion. “How do we get these people to understand that the history of the Catholic Church is part of their history and is the history of Christianity?”

“I don’t have an ultimate answer to eradicating prejudice and bigotry against American Catholics. But in the short run my suggestion is to wear the signs of our faith proudly and without apology. Wear those ashes. Wear your scapulars. Say your Rosary sitting on your bunk. Make the sign of the cross clearly and unambiguously. We are the emissaries of the church in the mission field. Above all, be proud of being a mackerel snapper.”

First published: The Florida Catholic, March 6, 2003 © 2003 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic. This article appeared in the I Was in Prison Ezine on February 21, 2006. 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.

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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