WHILE the national government can justify that it has no budget to support its prison system and has other economic priorities to be concerned about, ‘human personhood’ must be respected with uncompromising reverence.
When we deal with human beings, yes even with prisoners, we should do so with the sense of awe that arises in the presence of something holy and sacred. For that is what human beings are: we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
We consistently uphold that every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (John 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church.
We in the PRISON MISSION therefore are our ‘brother’s keepers’ for our poor brothers and sisters in the prison cells and facilities.
“Every threat to human dignity and life, most especially as glaring as this sorry state of our prison system, must necessarily be felt in our very heart; it cannot but affect us at the core of our faith in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, and to proclaim, and work for, the Gospel of life in all the world and to every creature. — Mark 16:15.
(St. John Paul II, The Gospel of Life [Evangelium Vitae], no. 3)
OUR RESPONSE: THE PRISON MISSION
The PRISON MISSION started its ‘trial existence,’ around three years ago, feeling its way, seeking God’s inspiration, patiently waiting on God’s confirmation. We have done ‘informal’ initiatives of serving our inmates during this process.
The overall strategy of the PRISON MISSION is to bring WHOLISTIC salvation to the prison inmates. Not just to the spirit, as the ‘religious’ sector would provide,= because we learned that…
The glory of God is man fully alive. (St Irenaeus)
Not just the body, or the material needs– on the other hand, because we learned … spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #365)
The PRISON MISSION seeks to serve the total ‘human person’ of the prison inmates.
We have the following as the objectives:
- Provide support for their basic practical needs, medical needs, and legal supports.
- Create a community of support within the jail facilities for their spiritual and psycho-spiritual needs by bringing them to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ, and an active engagement in the Catholic Church.
- Bridge ‘ex-offenders’ (inmates who served their sentences) to ‘outside’ groups and communities that will provide continuing ‘formation/discipleship’ and practical support.
- Provide links to educational assistance to the CICL (Children In Conflict with the Law), CAR (Children At Risk), and the children of the
- Equip both current PDL’s (Persons Deprived of Liberty) and ex-offenders
The Prison Mission is on Facebook.
- The Ministry provides two (2) levels of First level is a ‘direct’ support/assistance coming from the resources of the Ministry.Second level is ‘bridging and monitoring.’ This means that the Ministry ‘links up’ the inmates to resources who have the ‘focus,’ competencies, and resources to provide support to these areas of needs.
- Harness existing networks in the efficient delivery of the services, sourcing of resources, and raising of funds.
First, we hope that we can plant seeds in the heart of prison inmates that will grow and bear fruit even AFTER their release from incarceration. This is a serious prayer as current data suggests an unencouraging reality: According to World Prison Brief (2017), 74.4% of the total population of prisoners return to prison in the Philippines. We hope that we can empower freed inmates to live out this ‘new life in Christ,’ receiving not just ‘authentic’ freedom, but living it out sustainably outside of the prison walls.
Second, we believe that we can’t change people. Only God can do that.
Our work is to simply provide the support that they need AND be present with them. The rest, we surrender to the work of God in prayer. This makes our work both unique and ‘wider’ in scope.
Third, we hope that our service be a fruit of our continuing love and devotion to Jesus Christ.
Because only by seeing Jesus in the Eucharist will we be able to consistently see Jesus in the inmates we serve. Jesus loves the prisoners because Jesus himself was a prisoner. He knows how they feel. He knows what they need.
He feels their pain. May we have the compassion and empathy of
Jesus by becoming intentional in our ‘solidarity’ with our inmate brothers and sisters.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous[p] will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ — Matthew 25:35-40
Lastly, we hope to have more inmates and ex-offenders taking on the mission of using their past hurts for the healing of others. This is the ultimate transformation: becoming like Jesus, who Himself is the Wounded Healer.
“…by his wounds we were healed.” (Isaiah 53:5b)