Poona diocese gets its prison ministry
Nov. 28, 2013
Poona diocese has got its own prison ministry to provide some solace to prisoners living in acute loneliness and grief. The move to create prison ministry for the diocese was initiated by Fr. Wilfred Fernandes, Rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Prison Ministry India is a national voluntary organization working for the release, reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners.
Started way back in 1986, the ministry has 850 branches across the country with a research centre in Kerala. There are more than 20 rehabilitation centers where hundreds of released men and women who are in a morally dangerous environment, children of prisoners, and juvenile delinquents find new life. Over 6,000 volunteers are actively involved in the organisation that covers as many as 1,394 prisons in the country, Fr. Wilfred said.
The priest, who is also a State Coordinator of the Prison Ministry India, has been associated with the work since 1995 when he was a studying at the St.Charles seminary in Nagpur. "As part of the Bhajan Mandali, we visited undertrials in prison and tried to convince them that their time in prison should not be considered as a punishment term but that of reformation," he said. Father Wilfred was soon assisted by Brother William Anthony, who is studying theology at the Papal Seminary, in his project. However, the going was not easy as Brother William had to visit prison officials twice a week, request appointments with senior officials and convince them about the sincerity of the project.
Their efforts paid off when the prison authorities allowed them to conduct medical check-up camps.
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