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This is the story of an unusual parish—drawn from the inmates of Sing Sing Prison—told by their chaplain of sixteen years. Unsparing in his treatment of the brutalities of prison life, Fr. Lemmert chronicles the stories of the prisoners he served, revealing their humanity, and showing that there is no place so dark that God’s love cannot be found.
Fr. Lemmert’s ministry began with the project of rebuilding the long-neglected prison chapel. By enlisting the prisoners’ help, they were also gradually transformed. Refuge in Hell describes how a caring community can emerge, as the practice of faith leads to deeper lessons in forgiveness, reconciliation, and liberation.
Fr. Ronald D. Lemmert served as a full-time Catholic chaplain at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY from 1995 until his retirement in 2011. He has also been involved in Restorative Justice Healing Circles for the survivors of clergy sex abuse. He now lives at “My Father’s House,” a halfway house he founded for ex-offenders in Peekskill, NY.