Maria Elena SchaefersEvery year, Catholic Extension’s Lumen Christi Award honors an individual or group working in one of America’s mission dioceses who demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. This year Sister Maria Elena Schaefers, who is currently engaged in prison ministry at North Idaho Correctional Institution, was among those nominated. The winner will receive $50,000 for her/his ministries and will be announced this fall.

The nomination: “Drawing from her experience and language skills as a missionary in Colombia, Sister Maria Elena Schaefers volunteered to work with Spanish-speaking inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution (ISCI). While her formal role in the diocese’s prison ministry is to help lead prayer and singing on Sundays and to lead Bible studies, Catholic faith classes, and pre-baptism sessions, she’s best known for spreading hope and news of Christ’s love and forgiveness. Schaefers is also responsible for the growth of the Idaho Catholic Prison Ministry and has recruited volunteer priests and lay men and women to help serve nearly 20 facilities.”