Mar del Plata (Agenzia Fides) - "The most important thing for a pastor is to have a flock to accompany and take care of, and you are the privileged group of the Pastor, it is a joy to share", said Mgr. Gabriel Antonio Mestre, new Bishop of the diocese of Mar del Plata, Argentina, at the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration in Unidad Penitenciaria N. 15 de Batán prison, on Monday 20 November.
During the Eucharist, 22 detainees received confirmation and 5 baptism.
Accompanied by Fr. Hernán Ángel David, prison chaplain, Sr. Helena Kuc and members of the penitentiary pastoral ministry of Mar del Plata, who daily visit the detainees and bring the word of Jesus. Mgr. Mestre was received by the prison authorities, the chief of the East Zone complex, Omar Herrera, the Secretary of Coordination, Claudia Díaz, and Director of Unit 15, Pascual Lettieri.
"Time is one of the most important things we have in life, and we must use our present time well", said the young Bishop in the homily. "Between Past, present and future, what is worth is the present: The future can be planned but always from the present, even the past must be taken from the present, the present time is the only thing we have in our hands. It is good to have projects and do them with joy in order to go out to face new things, but all this is carried out in the present. Together with God we are the owners of the present, we must have big dreams and projects".
After the celebration, informs the note of Aica sent to Fides, the detainees gave the Bishop a watch made in the penitentiary lab. Watches produced by prisoners are now known and appreciated for good quality, so they receive requests from individuals and companies. Mgr. Gabriel Mestre then shared lunch with the detainees and pastoral members.
He then went to the Center for the university Pastoral Care (CPU). Here he blessed and discovered a mural in honor of Pope Francis painted by one of the detainees. The detainees have asked this space to be "institutionalized" so that it can continue to be a meeting place.
In Argentina there are more than 205 prisons with about 69,000 detainees. Of these, 10,500 are in the 34 federal prisons, while the 55 criminal centers of great Buenos Aires host about 31,000. According to data Fides collected since the last publication of the National Statistics System, the rest of the detainees are in prisons that are directly dependent on the provinces.
Of the total (69 thousand) 65,418 are men and 2,989 women. 64,465 are from Argentina and 3,942 are foreigners.
The largest group of detainees consists of those between 25 and 34 years of age (26,755 inmates).
Unfortunately, as in other countries, violence and corruption are present in many of these centers, but the tireless work of the Church through social and penitentiary pastoral care can give a significant contribution to improving the situation in prisons.
(CE) (Agenzia Fides, 22/11/2017)