Glimpses of Grace Donald Stoesz
Visionary Initiatives

                 Visionary Initiatives in Prison Chaplaincy

                      Table of Contents

  • Overview of Pierre and Judy Allard’s Ministry 
  • CSC Mission Statement: Restraint and Rehabilitation
  • Radical Vision of Biblical Justice and Healing
  • Institutional Chaplaincies: Religion
  • Community Chaplaincies: Reintegration
  • IPCA and Equipping: Restoration and Reconciliation
  • Excerpts from Joan Palardy’s Rwanda Journal
  • Stories
  • Tributes and Reflections
  • Afterword, by Pierre and Judy Allard

Curriculum Vitae
Appendix 1: Job Description of a Prison Chaplain


Six grassroots movements of prison chaplaincy can be traced to the late 1960s and early 70s. In 1969, Charles Taylor together with his wife Charlotte started Kairos Marathon Retreats at Springhill Institution, a federal prison located on the west side of Nova Scotia.[1] Dr. Taylor served for fifty years (1953-2003) as a professor of counselling at Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

That work has continued through the auspices of Concilio Prison Ministry, a non-profit organization started by Dr. Taylor under the umbrella of the Christian Council of Reconciliation.[2]  It offers two-day retreat settings at Springhill Institution in which volunteers and inmates come together in a safe environment to experience love and forgiveness through the movement of God’s Spirit.[3] They share their hurts and painful life experiences in order to experience healing, personal and spiritual growth, and a new vision for their lives.

Concilio Prison Ministry purchased a house in the 1990s and received permission to place it within Springhill Institution to provide a place where inmates could go for individual and group retreat time. The purpose of St Luke’s Renewal Center is to provide a quiet, home-like atmosphere away from the prison milieu in order to promote spiritual openness, trust, and honest introspection.[4] Anglican priest Rev. Lorraine Street serves as its current facilitator.[5]

The Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at Acadia Divinity College has continued the work of Dr. Charles and Charlotte Taylor by offering chaplaincy courses at its seminary. Dr. Dorothy Hunse serves as its current Director.[6]

In 2019, Rev. Leon Teal, long-time minister of a Nazarene Church in Trenton,  Nova Scotia, became the first individual to graduate from Acadia Divinity College with a Master of Arts (Theology) with Specialization in Prison Chaplaincy. Leon is employed with Bridges of Canada as a Part-Time Chaplain serving in Springhill and Truro.[7]

Harry Nigh, a minister with the Mennonite Church in Hamilton, Ontario, was asked by Mennonite Central Committee in 1973 to become the director of a prison visitation program known as Man to Man and Woman to Woman (M2/W2). Harry recruited and trained volunteers to visit inmates in prison on the basis of a friendship philosophy.[8]

That friendship based philosophy has continued through an organization known as the Dismas Fellowship Network.[9] Thirteen different church communities in the Ontario region have “created safe and welcoming spaces where ex-prisoners and their friends can find community and follow our friend Jesus.” Volunteers and ex-prisoners gather once or twice a month for a meal and listen to a guest share. They gather in a circle to listen and pray for each other.

In 1974, Orville Andres, a Mennonite minister in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, started a similar Person to Person visitation program at the federal prison located in his community. This initiative eventually came under the auspices of Parkland Restorative Justice Association (2014), an ecumenical organization dedicated to a variety of ministries and visitation programs.[10] Educators at the University of Saskatchewan, Heather Duncan and Shelly Dalbar, have documented the success of the P2P program in providing healing and support to inmates through volunteer visitation.[11]

In the same year, 1974, two young probation officers in Elmira, Ontario approached a judge regarding several youths who had broken into homes in their community. Mark Yantzi and Dave Worth asked the judge whether the youths could pay restitution to the victims rather than going to jail. Thus began a Victim-Offender Restorative Program (VORP) that dealt directly with the harm that the offenders had caused their victims.[12]

That Restorative Justice work has continued through the auspices of Community Justice Initiatives, a charity established in 1982 that expanded the VORP program to include “conflict resolution services, support for people impacted by sexual trauma, assistance for families involved with child protection, reintegration support for adults returning to the community from prison or custody, and integration support for new Canadian youth.”[13]

A slightly different ministry was developed in 1977 in Moncton, New Brunswick. Judy Allard, spouse of Protestant chaplain Pierre Allard at Dorchester Penitentiary,  invited ex-inmates to their home on a Friday evening. Thus was born a community chaplaincy venture that worked with men and women released from prison. A drop-in centre known as the Little Lighthouse was established in downtown Moncton so that ex-offenders would have a safe place to go to meet pro-social friends and contacts.[14]

That work has continued through an organization known as Moncton Community Chaplaincy.[15] Incorporated as a charity in 1985, it provides re-integration services, Circles of Support and Accountability (COSAs) for sex offenders released into the community, a mentoring program, as well as support for women affected by loved ones who have been incarcerated. Rev. David Way has served as a community chaplain since 2000.

A similar community chaplaincy started in 1978 in Kingston, Ontario. Recently retired Baptist minister, Alan Matthews, was working with at-risk youth in a program known as Youth Anonymous.[16] When some of these men went to jail, Rev. Matthews began visiting them in Kingston Penitentiary. Before long, the local Baptist church was supplying gas money so that Rev. Matthews could be reimbursed for driving to the institution. A drop-in centre was established in Kingston to provide a place where Rev. Matthews and other volunteers could meet ex-offenders.

Kingston Community Chaplaincy was incorporated as a charity in 2007 in order to provide reintegration services to ex-offenders. It continues to offer a variety of restorative justice ministries.[17]

These six ventures, started within ten years of each other (1969-1978), represent the impetus of this book. These initiatives can be referred to as kairotic moments, in which the “right, critical, and opportune moments” came along so that a new vision of prison chaplaincy and prison ministries could be established.[18]

One way of analysing this movement is to look more closely at two people who provided a vision for these prison chaplaincy initiatives. One person has already been mentioned, Judy Allard. She helped establish community chaplaincy in Moncton, New Brunswick in 1977.

The other person is her husband, Pierre Allard. Pierre began prison chaplaincy in 1972 in Etablissement Archambault, located near St-Anne-des-Plaines, Quebec. After thirteen years as institutional chaplain in Quebec and New Brunswick (1972-1985), Pierre became Regional Chaplain for the Atlantic Region of Correctional Service Canada (1985-1987).

In 1985, Pierre began a doctoral program at a Baptist Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He wanted to understand the Correctional Service better as well as to lend his own voice to the future of chaplaincy. His thesis focused on a new statement of values that CSC Commissioner Ole Ingstrup had written.[19] Pierre analysed this document, interviewed senior managers of CSC, and outlined four theological themes of a chaplaincy model: biblical justice, imago dei, wall of separation, and reconciliation.[20]

This thesis represents an excellent jumping off point to analyse the broad range of prison chaplaincies that emerged. The book is organized accordingly. An historical overview of Pierre and Judy’s ministries is outlined in chapter one. Chapter two summarizes the impact that Pierre had in corrections regarding the new CSC Mission Statement. The third chapter analyses Pierre’s radically biblical vision of reconciliation and healing.

The fourth and fifth chapters outline the growth of institutional and community chaplaincies, along with the emergence of Circles of Support and Accountability and Restorative Justice programs. Some of these ventures have already been mentioned. Descriptions of the various community chaplaincies, COSA groups, and Restorative Justice efforts are illustrative rather than exhaustive. More information about these organizations can be found in the footnotes or by googling the different subject categories.

The sixth chapter looks at the impact of the International Prison Chaplains Association and an organization known as Just.Equipping. Pierre became President of IPCA in 1995 and served in that role for 10 years. Judy served as Executive Director. Two international chaplains conferences took place in Canada, IPCA III in 1995 in Aylmer, Quebec and IPCA V in 2005 in Cornwall, Ontario.

After Pierre’s retirement from Corrections in 2006, he and Judy were invited to become involved in reconciliation work in Africa. Thus began a Just.Equipping organization dedicated to educating, training, and equipping in the area of restorative justice. They together with many volunteers and chaplains developed a Victim-Offender Protocol that they used in their work with the perpetrators and victims of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Chapter seven includes excerpts from a journal about a three month volunteer assignment in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo. Joan Palardy, long-time Roman Catholic chaplain at Bowden Institution in Alberta went with her husband, John, to Africa in 2010 to assist Just.Equipping in providing training to chaplains regarding grief recovery, chaplaincy, and restorative justice.

Chapter eight includes stories that Pierre loved to tell. He is a natural story teller, able to use a simple image or event to point to something that speaks volumes about the subject matter.

Chapter nine offers tributes from a broad range of people impacted and influenced by Pierre and Judy Allard. Known as a Festschrift in more academic circles, these reflections represent a way of honouring the ministries of believers who have gone before in order to show the way forward.

Chapter ten provides an Afterword in which Pierre and Judy Allard reflect on the various successes of these prison chaplaincy ventures, along with their vision of what is possible in the future.

In summary, the grassroots initiatives that began across Canada in the 1970s flourished into a variety of prison ministry and chaplaincy organizations that are still active today. The purpose of this book is to outline the theological and philosophical sources of these programs as well as provide a brief description of the current ministries that grew out of these initiatives.

[1] Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care, About Us – Taylor Center ( Retrieved 9 February 2023.

[2] Concilio Prison Ministry, Concilio Prison Ministry, Concilio Prison Ministry – Concilio Prison Ministry Retrieved 24 November 2022.

[3] Concilio Prison Ministry, Kairos Marathons, Kairos Marathons – Concilio Prison Ministry Retrieved 9 February 2023.

[4] Concilio Prison Ministry, St. Luke’s Renewal Center, St. Luke’s Renewal Center – Concilio Prison Ministry Retrieved 9 February 2023.

[5] Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Rev. Lorraine Street, Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island | Anglican Diocese in Halifax, NS ( Retrieved 9 February 2023.

[6] Taylor Centre for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care, About Us – Taylor Center ( Retrieved 9 February 2023.

[7] Concilio Prison Ministry, December 2020 Newsletter, Friends-of-Concilio-December-2020.pdf ( Retrieved 9 February 2023.

[8] Donald Stoesz, Email correspondence with Harry Nigh, 30 November 2022.

[9] Dismas Fellowship Network, A Fellowship of Hope, Dismas Fellowship Network | Ex-Prisoner Support | Who We Are, Our Values, and Locations Retrieved 24 November 2022.

[10] Parkland Restorative Justice, About Us, About | Parkland Restorative Justice Retrieved 26 November 2022.

[11] Heather Duncan and Shelly Balbar, Evaluation of the P2P Visitation Program Saskatchewan Penitentiary, (Resolve Saskatchewan, 2005), unpublished, 63 pages.

[12] Community Justice Initiatives (CJI), The Elmira Story, The Elmira Case Story | Community Justice Initiatives (  Retrieved 24 November 2022.

[13] Community Justice Initiatives (CJI), Imagine a Just Community, Homepage | Community Justice Initiatives ( Retrieved 24 November 2022.

[14] For a video overview of what community chaplaincy entails, see Jim Collin’s video, Friends of Main Street,   Friends on Main Street on Vimeo Retrieved 24 November 2022. It outlines the beginning of Moncton Community Chaplaincy as well as Kingston Community Chaplaincy. It includes sharing by Claude Arsenault, Jane Warren, Garth Hollinger, James Ellis, and Pierre and Judy Allard.

[15] Moncton Chaplaincy, Community Chaplaincy for Ex-offenders, Moncton Community Chaplaincy ( Retrieved 24 November 2022; Hugh Kirkegaard, The Long Journey Home: Brief History of Canadian Community Chaplaincy, online article (UK: Community Chaplaincy Network, 2015), 6-7.

[16] Kingston Community Chaplaincy, Helping Prisoners Transition into our Community, Kingston Community Chaplaincy: A History – Kingston Community Chaplaincy Retrieved 24 November 2022.

[17] Facebook, Kingston Community Chaplaincy, (1) Kingston Community Chaplaincy | Facebook Retrieved 9 February 2023.

[18] Wikipedia, Kairos, Kairos - Wikipedia Retrieved 23 November 2022. Another definition suggests that kairos represents “"a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved.”

[19] Ole Ingstrup, Report on the Statement of CSC Values (Ottawa: Correctional Service Canada, 1984).

[20] Pierre Allard, The Statement of the Correctional Service of Canada Values and a Biblical Perspective for the Role of Chaplain, Doctor of Ministry Dissertation (North Baptist Theological Seminary, 1986), unpublished, 192 pages.