A Day with Dad

St. Mary’s Correctional Center makes WV history!!

On Saturday, August 2, 2014, Catalyst Ministries partnered with St. Mary’s Correctional Center, St. Marys, WV to host West Virginia’s first ever “Day with Dad Celebration.”

Modeled after Awana Lifeline’s “Returning Hearts Celebration,” a Day with Dad is a one day event that unites “children only” with their inmate fathers. This fun, carnival-style atmosphere with inflatables, games, crafts and food promotes hope, joy, and reconciliation while introducing the children and their fathers to the gospel. It’s an opportunity for fathers to spend the day with their children and say “I’m sorry” and “I love you.” It’s a day aimed at reducing a real problem, generational incarceration.

What A day!!!

We had 50 very excited children get up very early to begin their day with their daddys. Children came from New York, Tenn., Kentucky, Ohio and all around West Virginia. We had over 70 volunteers and staff come together to facilitate this wonderful day. Many volunteers traveled over 200 miles to make this day possible.

The day began with a very emotional uniting of children and fathers. The children sat in the gym bleachers, the fathers were behind a curtain. Individually, their names were called and the fathers stepped from behind the curtain and it was so moving to watch the children run into their father’s arms and embrace. There were a lot of happy tears in the gym, staff and volunteers included!

The day was then open for fun and bonding. What a site to see, father\children playing games, getting their faces painted, passing football, playing basketball, eating snow cones and hot dogs, etc., etc.

In the afternoon, we all gathered, sitting on the ground in the middle of the “Prison Yard” and heard about God’s grace and free gift of salvation. Pastor Jim Scudder Jr. Executive Pastor, Quentin Road Baptist Church, Lake Zurich, Illinois delivered the message. Pastor Scudder along with Pastor Mark Julian came all the way from Chicago just to volunteer.

Finally, the day ended with some quiet time between father and child, coupled with a balloon launch.

The children left elated but wore out, with painted faces, balloons and a memory never to be erased. Every child was also given an age specific Bible, Day with Dad T-shirt, backpack and some school supplies.