YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown has three new members as of Tuesday.
But they are not your typical converts. They are inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.
Starting in the middle of March, at least 30 men inside Youngstown’s supermax prison went on a hunger strike. One of the reasons was that the prison was banning them from religious gatherings, among other activities, because of an assault on a prison guard.
That hunger strike ended after one month. Ministers could come in to the prison to celebrate Mass for the first time since last year. And on Tuesday, two inmates were baptized and confirmed and one was confirmed by Youngstown Bishop George Murry.
He said the prisoners are allowing God’s grace into their lives to become better people.
“They are aware of the serious mistakes that they have made in their lives. And they are trying to get their lives in order. And they want to be in right relationship with God,” Murry said.
Bishop Murry went on to say that the inmates’ hunger strike shows their commitment to the Catholic faith. His message to them? Their book is not closed. Their story is not done being written.
Bishop Murry also told me the baptism and confirmation ceremonies in the prison were quite similar to normal ceremonies but the men were in shackles and handcuffs.