Over the years, during the month of December, the bishops of the Diocese of Rockville Centre have made pastoral visits to Long Island’s three major correctional facilities—in East Meadow, Riverhead and Yaphank—to celebrate Christmas Mass for the inmates. Bishop John Barres and Auxiliary Bishops Robert Brennan and Andrzej Zglejszewski are continuing the tradition this year, and will preside at a total of 10 liturgies through Dec. 23.

According to prison officials, Catholics comprise 40% of the 2,600 inmates currently incarcerated in the three jails. Masses are celebrated in English and Spanish, with Deacon James McLaughlin, director of prison ministry, in charge of arranging the schedule for the bishops. On Thursday, Dec. 21, photographer Gregory A. Shemitz chronicled Bishop Barres’ and Bishop Brennan’s visit to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Yaphank, where Bishop Barres presided at separate services for male and female inmates and Bishop Brennan celebrated a Spanish-language Mass for men. Here is a gallery of images from the day.

Photos by Gregory A. Shemitz