The Catholic Cincinnati Prison Mission Team
Our ministry is blessed with volunteers from parishes across the diocese. God calls us from all backgrounds, experiences and stages in our lives. For more information about volunteering in our prisons or jails, click here. To contact our team, click here.
Christine M. Shimrock, Director of Prison Ministries
Christine has worked with the incarcerated since 2002 and spent time with the women at the Hamilton County Justice Center and Talbert House treatment program until 2005. In 2003, she joined the team at Lebanon and Warren Correctional Institutions and has continued working with the men in both prisons in catechesis and faith formation. In 2013, she began meeting with the women at Dayton Correctional as well.
As the Director of Prison Ministries for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Christine works with the administration at the Lebanon, Warren and Dayton Correctional Institutions and a team of volunteers to bring formation opportunities to the incarcerated men and women in the diocese. She holds a M.S. Criminal Justice and M.A. Theology and is the Past President of the American Catholic Correctional Chaplains Association (ACCCA). Her background includes 12 years at USA Today Newspaper, four years as a Mason City Council Member and she has been an adjunct Criminal Justice instructor at Xavier University since 2006. Christine is a member—along with her five children—of St. Susanna Parish in Mason, Ohio.
“What a privilege it has been to spend time with our incarcerated brothers and sisters all these years and represent this ministry to the larger community. God has used my collective mistakes and successes for good, just as He promises. Our call to justice is clear; God’s wisdom on that path is perfect. I am blessed to be in this role.”
Father Tom McQuillen
Fr. Tom McQuillen is a priest of the Diocese of Toledo. He is currently serving as the Dean of Men at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Cincinnati. In previous assignments, he has served as an Associate Pastor in Norwalk and Mansfield, Ohio. He also spent 10 years in the missions, serving in a parish in Binga, Zimbabwe and as the Academic Dean of St. Augustine’s Seminary in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Throughout his priestly ministry, prison ministry has always been a part of it. As a seminarian in Washington, DC, he visited a number of prisoners in the DC jail system. Then in Norwalk, he assisted with Masses at the Huron County Jail. In Africa, prison visits continued. In Mansfield, he began with visits to death row when part of it was still housed at Mansfield Correctional. He also provided sacramental services to Richland Correctional. In 2013, he began to assist with Masses at Lebanon and Warren.
“I find working with the inmates to be inspiring. Some of them are striving with all their being to become good and holy men. They are learning the faith, praying hard, and often seeking to grow in the virtues. And this is done in the face of great opposition – from the environment, other people, their own histories and their own weaknesses. Their zeal to be better inspires me to also try to be better.”
Father Ron Haft
Fr. Ron Haft began doing jail chaplaincy at Montgomery County Jail in 2008 after being ordained a priest for eight months and while serving as parochial vicar at St. Charles Borromeo Kettering.
Fr. Haft’s home parish is St. Bernard Taylor Creek on the west side of Cincinnati and before being ordained as a priest, he studied Culinary Arts and Dietetics and then worked for ten years at Lebanon Correctional Institution in Inmate Health Services and Food Services. It was during that time that Fr. Haft returned to the practice of the Catholic faith and started the journey to the priesthood. He currently celebrates Mass and walks with the women at Dayton Correctional Institution.
“I am drawn to prison ministry because of the people I encountered who were incarcerated. My employment back ground helps me understand how the system works so I can be an empathetic listener to the spiritual needs and challenges of those incarcerated. What keeps me in the ministry of those incarcerated is the command of Christ; “When I was in prison and you visited me.” Furthermore, they are called to be saints like the rest of us.
“I want people to know that the people we minister to are human beings. Our concern is not where they have been, but where they are going. This does not mean we are bleeding hearts; this means we are Christian and are following the command of Christ. We are letting souls know that God loves them and wants to bring healing to them and their victims. Helping people to receive forgiveness and where possible to extend forgiveness is the authentic ministry of Jesus Christ.”
Deacon Don has been involved in working with the incarcerated since 2002 when he began the jail ministry as part of his Field Education Project in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program at the Athenaeum of Ohio. Deacon Don received his Masters in Pastoral Ministry from the Athenaeum in October, 2004. He was ordained a Deacon in April, 2007. He was then assigned as Deacon to St. John the Baptist Parish in Harrison, Ohio, where he has been a parishioner since 1979. After the passing of Fr. Mark Schmieder, who served the incarcerated for many years in Hamilton County and elsewhere, Deacon Don was appointed by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr as the Coordinating Catholic Chaplain at the Justice Center in Cincinnati in October, 2010 and has been serving there since.
Deacon Don’s responsibilities include spiritual counseling and direction to men and women incarcerated at the Justice Center, Talbert House and River City facilities. He coordinates the scheduling of teams for Catholic Worship Services held every Sunday afternoon at the Justice Center and at the Talbert House. He also leads a team himself. He has arranged for Mass to be celebrated at the Justice Center on both Christmas and Easter for men and women. He is also actively involved in working with the Dismas Journey Project throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati helping returning citizens get back on their feet, including help with employment. Deacon Don is also involved with the St. Vincent de Paul Society at his own parish and with the area office in Cincinnati working with their program, which has been developed through a grant from the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops to help returning citizens.
“It has been a blessing to accompany men and women through this challenging part of their lives reestablishing their relationship with the Lord and finding their own self worth, enabling them to move forward to restore their lives with faith and confidence.”
The CPPM Volunteer Prison Team
Dan Thompson – St. Susanna Parish, Mason
Jack and Linda Schaefer – Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Monroe
Deacon Bill Schaefer – Holy Name Parish, Trenton
Beverly Smith – St. Joseph Parish, North Bend
Bob Stadler – St. Francis de Sales Parish, Lebanon
Jim Flynn - St. Leonard Parish, Dayton
Mike and Pat Neverman – St. Thomas More Parish, Amelia
Paula Yerke – Guardian Angels Parish, Cincinnati
David Vandivier – St. Matthias Parish, Finneytown
Jon Riley, LPMP Program, Athenaeum
Steve Hendy, LPMP Program, Athenaeum
Patty Steele – St. Margaret of York Parish, Loveland
Andrew Wellmann – Seminarian, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary
Seminarians from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Cincinnati