Forty Days And Forty Nights
I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
February 20, 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: Dale S. Recinella

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:

Forty Days And Forty Nights
By: Dale Recinella

Rain has been falling for over a week.

The St. Mary’s River, which usually wends quietly and unnoticed behind our church, is cresting at more than six feet over flood stage. Flash flood warnings for Macclenny are not apocalyptic but they sure have riveted everyone’s attention. We all hope the rain will stop soon.

The parking lot of the prison is at least four inches under water. I find myself straddling the curbs and tiptoeing along the crest of the speed bumps in order to avoid the ankle deep wavelets.

“You gonna make it, chap?” calls out a slicker clad officer from the steps of the building. “It might be easier to swim than to walk.”

“I’ll say. Up in Baker County we’re ready to start bringing the animals into the ark two-by-two.”

“Yeah, same thing down in Lake Butler. Be careful, chap,” he continues, reminding me that water will be inside the building, too. “You know how slippery the floor gets in spots when it rains.”

“Thanks,” I answer distractedly, while checking the security of the plastic lid on my Styrofoam cup filled with the slurry of blessed ashes and holy water.

Distributing the ashes that mark the beginning of Lent is no small task in the two huge prisons that house Florida’s death row and solitary confinement. It’s not possible to cover both prisons in one day. In even-numbered years, Florida State Prison receives ashes on Ash Wednesday and Union Correctional is covered as soon as possible after that.

This is an odd-numbered year. On the morning of Ash Wednesday ashes were administered on death row at Union Correctional. Father Jose and Brother Ken, who had been distributing ashes to the Catholics at the state mental hospital in Macclenny that morning, joined me at 1:00pm in the chapel for the Ash Wednesday service for the inmates in general population. Then we proceeded in force to the psychiatric solitary and disciplinary confinement buildings and the prison hospital. We finished just in time to return home and join our families for the evening Ash Wednesday service at our parish.

Today, the first Sunday of Lent, the Catholics at Florida State Prison will receive their ashes at cell front. After the wing officer unlocks the food flap in each man’s door, the inmate and I both kneel on the wet concrete floor. The ashes are administered by reaching inside the cell through the hole in the door. It will take about eight hours to offer ashes and Communion to the one hundred and forty men registered as Catholic at Florida State Prison.

“Do you have to be Catholic to get those?” a voice calls out from behind the door of the cell next to a Catholic who has just received his ashes. “I want those!”

“You don’t have to be Catholic,” my voice exhales forcefully as I pull myself up from kneeling on the concrete. “But you have to be willing to repent. These ashes mark the beginning of Lent, forty days of fasting and prayer.”

“Forty days! Why forty days?”

“We are allowing God to cleanse and prepare us for the mysteries of Good Friday and Easter. When God cleansed and prepared the world for Noah and his family, it rained for forty days and forty nights. Forty is the Biblical time period for cleansing and preparation.”

“So what I got to do?”

“For starters,” I tap my finger on his window, pointing to the pictures of nearly naked women adorning the walls of his cell, “Those have to come down.”

“No way. I’m not ready for that yet.”

“Fine. Put it off. But don’t wait too long. It’s already been raining for two weeks. Don’t let God’s cleansing flood of judgment catch you holding on to your favorite sins.”

First published: The Florida Catholic, March 20, 2003
© 2003 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.

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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