For those of us whose apostolate is within the world, the prayerful power and contemplative intercessions of the religious has our back, for they are a mighty arm of the Church and their prayer is one of the sharpest swords of the Word, now as it was centuries ago, when St. Teresa of Avila wrote these words: "I think we should act as people do when, in time of war, the enemy has overrun the country and the king finds himself hard pressed. He retires into a strongly fortified town from whence he sometimes makes a sortie. The small company with him in the citadel, being picked men, are better than a large army of cowardly soldiers; thus they often come off victors, they are not vanquished for there is no traitor in their ranks and famine alone can conquer them. No famine can force us to surrender--it may kill us--it cannot vanquish us! But why have I told you this? To teach you, my sisters, that we must ask God to grant that, of all the good Christians in this fort, none may desert to the enemy, that no traitor may be found here, and that the captains of this castle, or city--that is, the preachers and theologians--may be proficient in the way of our Lord. Since most of these are religious, you must pray that they may advance in perfection and may follow their vocation more perfectly. This is very necessary, for, as I said, it is the arm of the Church and not of the State which much defend us now. We, being women, can fight for our King in neither way: Let us, then, strive so to live that our prayers may avail to help these servants of God who have laboured hard to arm themselves with learning and virtue with which to help their Sovereign." The Way of Perfection. [1565]. (1997). Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers. (pp. 16-17)


The Church


760 Christians of the first centuries said, "The world was created for the sake of the Church." God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the "convocation" of men in Christ, and this "convocation" is the Church. The Church is the goal of all things, and God permitted such painful upheavals as the angels' fall and man's sin only as occasions and means for displaying all the power of his arm and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give the world.


Just as God's will is creation and is called "the world," so his intention is the salvation of men, and is called "the Church." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #760)


Catholic Intellect, Catholic Will


"For the soul's full functioning, we need a Catholic intellect as well as a Catholic will. We have a Catholic will when we love God and obey God, love the Church and obey the Church. We have a Catholic intellect when we live consciously in the presence of the realities that God through his Church has revealed. A good working test of a Catholic will is that we should do what the Church says. But for a Catholic intellect, we must also see what the Church sees. This means that when we look out upon the Universe we see the same Universe that the Church sees; and the enormous advantage of this is that the Universe the Church sees is the real Universe, because She is the Church of God. Seeing what She sees means seeing what is there. And just as loving what is good is sanctity, or the health of the will, so seeing what is there is sanity, or the health of the intellect." Theology and Sanity. F. J. Sheed. (1946). New York: Sheed & Ward. (pp. 3-4)

Our Work

The Lampstand Foundation is an apostolate of criminal reformation built upon an orthodox presentation of Catholic Social Teaching relying on the Papal Magisterium, the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas (reliance on Aquinas has a context and it can be best understood by reading the excellent essay from The Catholic Thing: The Future of Thomism at ) the vision of Teilhard de Chardin (virtually everything), and the Church reformation work of St. Catherine of Siena; and, working from the criminal peer relationship for conversion, reformation, and transformation.

Aquinas taught us that reason and faith are congruent and Teilhard taught us that the praxis emanating from their congruence is evolutionary and St. Catherine modeled the strategic and political power of women in the Church.

Our work involves the spiritual works of mercy: "Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently." (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2447)

Though our ministry is directed toward professional criminals--those who commit crimes for money--excluding pedophiles, rapists, and informers because they do not have credibility within the criminal/carceral world to be an effective evangelist and our mission is evangelization among professional criminals; we share with Pope Francis what he said in an interview:

"I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person's life. God is in everyone's life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else--God is in this person's life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God." Pope Francis, Interview in America Magazine, September 30, 2013 issue, Retrieved September 19, 2013 from

Lampstand's work is premised on the ancient principle of like to like, it takes a reformed criminal to reform criminals. The greatest example of this is Our Lord, who took human form to help us:

14- Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15- and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. 16- For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendents of Abraham. 17- Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. 18- For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2: 14-18)

The peer relationship is where the impact this apostolate may have on future criminal activity lies, and it will be seen most dramatically within the Lampstand prison ministry where the apostolate work will only be optimized by conversions of the criminal elite--the professional criminal--whose history within rehabilitative work is virtually nil, because for him, the rewards of deep immersion within the criminal/carceral culture are too great, and other than as a ruse, rehabilitation is considered a tragic fool's errand.


Lampstand is a 501 c (3) nonprofit corporation founded in 2003 in Sacramento, California by David H. Lukenbill, who was a criminal--thief and robber--for 20 years and served 12 of those years in maximum security federal and state prisons. He was transformed through education, many years developing and working with criminal transformative organizations, a strong marriage, studying Catholic social teaching--the only body of thought potent enough to trump the criminal/carceral world cultural narrative--and God's grace from becoming Catholic.

Lampstand is a lay apostolate--functioning as a research and development institute--grounded in the social teaching of the Catholic Church, providing leadership development tools for grassroots community prisoner reentry organizations developed and managed by reformed professional criminals (those who commit crimes for money), as well as a prison ministry model for Catholic parishes.

Professional career criminals who commit crimes for money, and who make up the bulk of people in maximum security prisons, chose to be criminals through an internal decision based on their perception of how the world operates; a perception not far from the truth considering who is the prince of the world.

Our apostolate is based on changing that internal dynamic through the only body of intellectual and spiritual truth capable of combating and defeating worldly truth.

The social teaching of the Church trumps that of the criminal world, and when presented to penitential criminals by a reformed criminal with the stature within the criminal and carceral world that generates respect and transformative listening, can bring the penitential criminal to the Church.

Our work in the world springs from the waters of baptism, through the gateway of the social teaching of the Catholic Church, informed by experiential and academic knowledge shaped by professional experience, and embracing the Church's call of the apostolate to share the tools from a life of transformation and communal reentry, to serve penitential criminals, the organizations they create and the public supporting them, on the path of deeper conversion to the communal life.

Pope John Paul II reminds us of the call of the Catholic Church: "...Millions of people, who, spurred on by the social Magisterium, have sought to make that teaching the inspiration for their involvement in the world. Acting either as individuals or joined together in various groups, associations and organizations, these people represent a great movement for the defense of the human person and the safeguarding of human dignity. Amid changing historical circumstances, this movement has contributed to the building up of a more just society..." (Pope John Paul II: Centesimus Annus)

Criminal reformation, the key to solving the reentry problem, has been a well-documented failure for decades. Lampstand proposes the idea that only the reformed criminal can reform criminals. The difficulty of understanding and interpreting the culture of the criminal world and guiding the often misunderstood motivations and desires of the criminal into effective rehabilitation, has been insurmountable for the rehabilitation practitioner, but, Lampstand contends, may not be so for the reformed, educated, and trained former criminal.

Transformed criminals with advanced degrees and Catholic social teaching knowledge, working through grassroots community organizations, can help reverse the long-term failure of criminal rehabilitation programs, as they possess the elemental experiential knowledge of the criminal world allowing them authentic access to penitential criminals.

The reentering criminal will only respond to a reformer with an experiential understanding of the issues involved in the world and way of life he is being asked to give up as well as the learned perspective of the world he is asking to reenter (really enter for the first time) as most professional criminals are born into the criminal world rather than the communal world they are seeking to "reenter".

The criminal world is otherworldly when compared to the world of the people largely charged by society to help the criminal transform and that is a central aspect of the failure of traditional rehabilitation. That otherworldly nature is perpetuated by the inability of rehabilitation practitioners to often even understand what it is criminals are saying, beyond the words they are using.

Few human beings are farther from God than criminals, yet the first canonized saint of the Church Christ established on the rock of Peter was the criminal Dismas, the Good Thief, who Christ took with Him from Calvary to heaven, thereby revealing the eternal path to criminal transformation.

The social teaching of the Church, illuminated by the Holy Spirit and reflected through the natural law, are powerful and eternal truths, potent enough to trump the truths of the criminal/carceral world, when presented to other criminals through the talk and walk of a transformed criminal who is a deep-knowledge leader.

The prodigal son's return - the transformed criminal's leadership in the community - can address the four central criminal justice issues of our time: 1) our nation's youth who are at risk of becoming criminals, 2) the failure of prisons to rehabilitate, 3) the failure of reentry, 4) the increasing criminalization of culture.


"The desire to work for the common good is not enough. The way to make this desire effective is to form competent men and women who can transmit to others the maturity which they themselves have achieved." (St. Josemaria Escriva, Conversations with Josemaria Escriva, p. 115)

"The battle-flag is always placed among warriors, as a sign to which they look during the hardest fighting of the battle. We are continuously at war with the princes of darkness...If anyone is troubled, vanquished, and overcome, let him look to the Lord hanging on the gibbet of the cross." (St. Thomas of Villanova)

907 "In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." Catechism of the Catholic Church & Code of Canon Law 212.3