Palancas are letters or notes of encouragement that state prayerful thoughts and wishes to the incarcerated from faith-filled strangers. These letters are intended to communicate to incarcerated partipicants who attend REC that they are not forgotten but rather remembered in prayer and/or sacrifice and cared for by people on the outside.

Palanca, the Spanish word for “Lever”, is meant to serve as such and “raise up” another person to God in prayer and/or with a sacrifice of some kind. The person on the outside may choose to make a sacrifice such as giving up coffee or tv for an extended period of time or do something such as random acts of kindness in honor of the incarcerated person. Palancas always includes a daily prayer for the incarcerated individual and for the success of the REC weekend.

Palancas are anonymous…first name only with no personal identifying information such as phone number or address and are a way to express prayerful concern for the incarcerated person and for the success of the Residents Encounter Christ retreat. They are not intended to be a “pen pal” nor a way to pass judgement but rather a way to communicate affirmation through a single letter for the faith journey of the REC participant.

For more information on palancas, read What is a Palanca?

How to Write a Palanca

Often Palanca letters start with “Dear Brother In Christ” and end with “Your Sister (or Brother) In Christ”.

Specifically state what palanca the person on the outside (you) has been doing and for how long the writer has been engaged in it. Examples: “I have been praying for you and your loved ones every day for the past 2 months.” or “Everyday since April 1st I have been going without my morning coffee and offering my sacrifice to God in hopes that your REC weekend will help you grow closer to God.”

You can write palanca letters on any paper, stationary or card so long as there is no personal information on it such as address of a business or residence, name of a town or church. You may download our Palanca Instruction to help guide you through your palanca.

Both children and adults can do palanca. For those unable to write a letter a picture may be drawn to share prayerful concern

Palanca Resources

Printable Palanca Instructions: Please review our notes on how to write Palanca Letters to the incarcerated men we serve.

Palanca example #1  • Palanca example #2  • Palanca example #3  • Feel free to share these documents at your REC retreat or other prayerful event.

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