Beyond the Fence: A virtual tour of a Canadian penitentiary - Chapel

CSC’s institutions have a space or room dedicated as a chapel, where various types of religious services are held. “Faith service providers” facilitate the spiritual care of all inmates, regardless of faith, by arranging access to faith-appropriate care and services. A chapel’s layout may be different depending on the institution, but all are designated sacred space used only for spiritual or religious purposes. This provides a confidential and safe place for inmates to explore spiritual, moral, and ethical issues.

Counselling Room or Office

Counselling Room

Faith service providers are available to all federal correctional institutions. They play numerous roles, including worship leader, counsellor, role model, and volunteer coordinator.

Faith service providers often work one-on-one with offenders. Their presence in an institution can help ease tensions and assists individual inmates to settle into the institutional environment more smoothly. Faith service providers help inmates explore questions of faith and to accept responsibility for their crimes, and sometimes facilitate the process of an apology to their victims. They also work with offenders to improve their relationship with family members and the community, which can help them reintegrate into society as law-abiding citizens.


Each chapel has a library with books and texts for a variety of different religions. Inmates may borrow these to study on their own or in groups that are facilitated by the faith service provider or a volunteer from the community. In cases where an institution does not have a designated area, shared space is provided for spiritual/religious observances and practices.

Fr. Joseph Leclerc

Joseph LeclercFaith service providers have always been part of the correctional system in Canada. Fr. Joseph Leclerc is the only chaplain to have had a correctional facility named in his honour. What made him so special? Picture a scene from May 19, 1873. One hundred and nineteen inmates file onto the steamship Watertown to be transferred from Kingston Penitentiary to the new St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary in Quebec. In the midst of these men and their guards was Fr. Joseph Leclerc, chaplain of the new penitentiary. He wanted his presence to be a comfort. It was. History tells us that a number of the men were so touched by the quality of his presence that they changed the course of their lives.