ARCH is designed to transform lives in our 23-county Diocese of Columbus. It is an outreach project aimed to minister to and meet the needs of the formerly incarcerated (returning citizens) and to help local parishes become welcoming communities and essential support services on the road to reintegration and healing. This project also aids those who minister to returning citizens in their ongoing conversion and living out of faith in compassion and mercy. ARCH is sponsored by the Catholic Diocese, Office for Social Concerns and the Vincentian Ohio Action Network and is funded by the generous support of the The Catholic Foundation.
Returning citizens have paid their debt to society in terms of serving time in jail or prison yet continue to face monumental challenges to become active members of the community. These consequences include collateral sanctions instituted by public policy, unemployment, homelessness, lack of reliable transportation, social service, and mental health treatment needs, and family life issues. The effects of criminal behavior and incarceration are also a major contributor to poverty in our community. ARCH is working to equip parish communities and members of SVdP to welcome and walk with returning citizens on their journey of faith, recovery, and reintegration back to society.
The ARCH Ministry includes elements surfaced by a Returning Citizens Working Group that was convened in 2016 by the Office for Social Concerns and the Vincentian Ohio Action Network, representing Catholics, prison ministers, formerly incarcerated leaders, and community partners actively meeting to address these needs. The ARCH ministry was formally launched in Winter 2017.