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Contemplative Outreach of DFW

Serving Dallas/Fort Worth & North Texas

Prison Outreach

History of the Chapter's Prison Outreach Program

Writings from Coffield Unit

Photographs from Coffield Unit

Photographs from Michael Unit

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History of the Chapter's Prison Outreach Program

Dennis’ Story

Part of my responsibilities as administrative assistant to a local Dallas priest was to open his mail. Although mostly donations, there was the occasional letter of gratitude for his weekly message. One such letter was from an inmate on the Coffield Unit in southeast Texas. (This is a maximum security prison housing approximately 4200 men.) I read with interest Kenneth’s description of what incarcerated life was like and complied with his request to mail him some books. Months later, his letter still lay on my desk. I tried several times to discard it, as our society so easily does with most prison populations, but my fascination with who this man was would not allow it. I scheduled to meet with him.

As part of my visit, I was able to attend mass with Ken and the other practicing Catholics. Afterwards, as many of us sat discussing the spiritual journey, I related my experiences with centering prayer. Some of the men explained that they too meditated but how difficult the practice was due to the constant noise in the prison. The reason I had been called to this penitentiary was becoming clear. In Texas, unless the members are Muslim, a group of offenders are not allowed to gather and pray unless they are accompanied by a volunteer. After hearing this, I agreed to return each week to facilitate a centering prayer group.

In the beginning our circle contained five to six men. As the group grew in size, Paul Vander Linden answered a much needed call for help and joined me this past February. Today, a little over a year and a half later, we have sixty men that center and practice Lectio Divina each week.  DM, Nov, 2012

Paul’s Story

Several years ago, I helped with the prison ministry at the Dallas County Jail, bringing the Eucharist to the men there. I was practicing Centering Prayer at the time and remember thinking that would be a good practice for these men. Last fall I learned that Dennis was taking the Centering Prayer practice to the Coffield Prison and it kind of jumped out to me. After the first of the year, Dennis and I talked and we agreed that I should go with him and see if I liked it. I did. The moment I was there, I felt that this is what God wanted me to do.

I would not say that these men need this prayer more that the rest of us do, we all need it, but they do need it in a special way. They do not feel loved and in their experience are not shown that they are loved. Many feel that people don't care about them at all. They do need to know that God loves them and that he loves them very much. What we can hope to do is expose them to the Contemplative practices, encourage them and be with them as they experience the Indwelling Spirit.  PVL, Nov, 2012

Email Paul and Dennis

Coffield Prison

The H. H. Coffield Unit or Coffield is a prison for men located at 2661 FM 2054, Tennessee Colony, TX 75884.  With a capacity of 4,021 inmates, Coffield is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's largest prison.  The unit, on a 20,518 acres plot of land, is co-located with Beto, Gurney, Michael, and Powledge units.

Writings from Coffield

Experiential Halloween

Halloween is silvery coolness.
Creativity blossoms from within.
I feel suspense-fully awestruck
with those gone before me.

As twilight descends into night
I become truly one with
the physical dead who are
Spiritually free and actively happy

by Jaime Lopez


Centering Prayer


A place to free your mind
A place to find yourself and your faith
A place to show each other brotherly love
A place of total peace in a setting that is always noisy

by David Moreno


I Come to This Place


I come to this place
to hear the roar of silence
ringing in my ears.

To feel the Presence of creation
Calls to me, Grace; like waves breaking
the illumination of my darkness,
my inner-self that I seek.

I come to this place
My sanctuary, my peace
to feel the voice of God,
Filling my perceptions,
Idling my preconceptions.

There in the darkness I find
The Brilliant Light, my God
My God is existence, encompassing all
She is mother Love, He is father patience
Soothing words do flow
I hear, I am, that I am
And we become one

by David Williams


I’m writing this short note to tell you how much our centering prayer classes help me here at the Coffield Unit.

I don’t think anyone could really understand what prison life would be unless you came and lived it for yourself. The raging egotism of being the toughest, loudest, manly man possible. So much of it a “show” for whoever will listen. Attention…….whether positive or negative attention, is still attention; you have the floor. Makes for a very loud living place. Centering prayer classes is the only place we can come for silence. Blissful silence. The two twenty minute periods we’re able to soak up of silence. I’ve come to count on so I may endure the coming week. Learning how to quiet the mind, relax and focus on the spark of the Divine which lives in each one of us. Sharing this experience with a group of men, slowly trusting each other more to let our guards down and “just be.” Grateful of the time and energy Dennis, Paul and Eugene pour into this group. Unselfishly driving here each week to encourage us not to fall into a despair; showing us a way out of here. If only in our minds.

I’m very grateful for centering prayer.

from Jason Walker


Photographs from Coffield Unit

View photographs of the members of the Coffield Unit Centering Prayer Group

Photographs from Michael Unit

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