ASIA/INDIA - After the Jubilee: in search of the "13th innocent prison apostle"

Friday, 24 March 2017 prisoners   local churches   laity   youth   jubilee of mercy   pastoral  

Bangalore (Agenzia Fides) - In the Year of mercy the community of the baptized in India has multiplied initiatives of pastoral closeness and solidarity in Indian prisons. Hundreds of prisoners have been released or have benefited from alternative sentences thanks to the support of many dioceses, congregations and church institutions. Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Faridabad, last year celebrated Holy Thursday Mass in the prison in Tihar. After the rite of the washing of the feet of 12 prisoners, another prisoner showed up at the altar begging to also be among the apostles. The Archbishop accepted, and washed the feet of the 13th prisoner. The man then told the Bishop he is the victim of false accusations and is innocent.
Recalling this significant episode, Bishop Peter Remigius, president of "Prison Ministry India" Catholic voluntary organization, told Fides: "It is up to us to find the 13th prisoner who seeks comfort and support" , stating that "within the Church there will always be a place of reception and solidarity and compassion for those in prison".
In the wake of the precious experience of the Jubilee, the "Prison Ministry India" organization now invites youth and adults to live a year of voluntary commitment. "In 1382 Indian jails over 400 thousand people languish without love, hope and help. The commitment is an opportunity to be involved in the recovery and rehabilitation of prisoners, in and out of Indian jails", said to Fides Fr. Sebastian Vadkumpadan, national coordinator of "Prison Ministry India".
The new volunteers will follow an intensive training program to be held at the Camilian Pastoral Health Center in Bangalore in May. The course is aimed at priests, nuns, lay people who "want to engage in this work of compassion and to continue to show care to those who are behind bars", says the priest.
"Prison Ministry India" was born in 1986 and recognized by the Bishops' Conference, that works for the care and rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners. It currently has over 6,000 volunteers who bring enthusiasm and energy to give hope and improve the quality of life of prisoners in Indian jails. (PN-PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/03/2017)