11th National Conference of Prison Ministry India was conducted from 22nd to 25th Oct. 2014 at Divine Retreat Centre, Faridabad, Delhi
The theme of the conference was “changing hearts, transforming lives and impacting the world”“Our chief Guest was Archbishop Most Rev. Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio inaugurated the National Convention. Special Guest of Honor was Justice Cyriac Joseph, National Human Rights Commission Member. In his speech he appreciated the works of Prison Ministry India and congratulated Fr. Sebastian the National Coordinator for his untiring works to spread and continue this work. The Presidential Address was given by Most Rev. Anil Joseph Coutu, Archbishop of Delhi. Then Most Rev. Bp. Peter Remigius, Chairman of Prison Ministry India gave the Voice of the Patron. Felicitations were given by: Rev. Fr. Brian, President of ICCPPC, Msgr. Sebastian Vadakumpadan VG, Faridabad Diocese, Rev Fr. Varkey Parekkatt S.J, Provincial, Rev, Sr. Sobel S.H., Provincial, Rev. Fr. Varghese Karippery, Co-Founder of Prison Ministry India, Rev. Fr, Francis Kodiyan, Co-Founder of Prison Ministry India, Rev, Fr. Josekutty Kalayil, Formar National Coordinator, Rev. Fr. John Puthenpurackal, Director of Divine Retreat Centre.
Thus the three days convention was attended by 476 prison ministry volunteers. Dr. Kiran Bedi, the first IPS officer was also present in one of the days for enlightening the group. There were many sessions on various topics connected with prison ministry. There were many sharing sessions of different volunteers. We had general body meeting and formed the new national executive members. Thus the participants witnessed for the first time the participation of members of International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care for national convention. All the participants may ever cherish the good memories of 11th national conference in their prison ministry life.
Fr. Sebastian Vadakumpadan
“Together we can Change the World”
Report of the Silver Jubilee of Jesus Fraternity and Xth National convention of Prison Ministry India: 11th to 14th Oct- 2010
St.Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottayam, Kerala
After a long preparation and waiting finally the day of Prison Ministry India’s Silver Jubilee has dawned on 11th Oct.2010. It was conducted in St.Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kottyam, Kerala- its birth place.
There were 520 participants from different walks of life including religious sisters from 113 congregations, priests from fifteen religious congregations brothers from eight brotherhood congregations, seminarians from seven seminaries. Representative were there from eighteen states and seventy six dioceses. 30 percentage of the participants were lay men and women.
The inaugural function started with the Holy Eucharistic celebration at 5.p.m on 11th Oct asking God to bless us through Jesus in the Eucharist, which was celebrated by our Patron Rt.Rev. Bishop Peter Remigius and concelebrated by all the priests who attended the Convention.
Inaugural Function: The hall was packed to capacity with dignitaries, delegates and invited guests. The President of the Inaugural function was Ret.Rev.Bishop Peter Remigius, Chairman Prison Ministry India and Chief guest was Mr. M.M Jacob, Honourable Former Governor of Meghalaya.
The inaugural function opened with a reading from the Holy Bib e followed by a Prayer dance gracefully performed by the Santhome school children.
Dignitaries were called on to the stage and Most Rev. Mathew Arackal, the chairman of Jesus Fraternity welcomed every body officially to the programme.
Christ is our Light and shows us the way. Therefore, we began with the lighting of the lamp by Rt.Rev.Bishop Peter Remigius, Mr.M.M.Jacob, Fr.Varghese Karippery, Fr.Francis Kodiyan, St.Jemma and other dignitaries.
The inaugural address was delivered by Mr. M.M Jacob, Honorable former Governor of Meghalaya and union Minister. As a Great intellectual he quoted saying of many great philosophers and leaders. As a government officer and minister he knew exactly the situation in prison. He recommended the Prison Ministry India volunteers to conduct different type of training and tackle the problems with love and compassion. He said he was inspired by Mr. Theresa and her service to the poor and concluded his enlightening speech by reciting a prayer written by her.
Motivating speeches were delivered by other dignitaries as well, who appreciated and congratulated all the volunteers of Prison Ministry India for the wonderful work done in various prisons in the country.
The presidential address was delivered by Rt.Rev.Bishopo Peter Remigius, Chairman, of Prison Ministry India. As a good shepherd he recommended that we should be persons of prayer and set an example to the prisoners to motivate them to pr ay to God. He urged us to look into the root causes of their sufferings and try different ways and means to relieve their suffering. He ended his inaugural address by saying that if we respect each one’s rights we will begin to close the prisons in our country and prayed that God gives us the strength to do so.
The Vote of Thanks was delivered by Fr.Manoj Director of Jesus Fraternity, Kerala, which was followed by grace and dinner. After the dinner, once again Fr.Josekutty Kalayil, the national Co-ordinator welcomed everybody to the three days convention. He also invited all the founders and pioneers of Prison Ministry from each state and honoured them with flower and shawl.
Day 2-12th October, 2010
Morning Prayer at 6.00 a.m. The day began with morning prayers, conducted by volunteers of Madhya Pradesh State, which was meaningful, and melodious.
Holy Eucharist at 6.30 a.m. The Holy Eucharist in Syro-Malankara rite was celebrated by His Excellency Philippose Mar Stephanose was a spiritually new experience for all the participants His Excellency acknowledged the wonderful work done by the volunteers of PMI all over India and he encouraged the participants to continue this ministry more meaningfully.
1st Session: Legal help to the needy, Role of PMI
Mr. Abraham Pattiyani, Advocate, Supreme Court, Delhi, kept the participants spell-bound with his message and legal advice. He gave various statistics in connection with prisons. He very clearly defined who the ‘poor’ are. He said large number are poor and needy because they are unaware of the law. They do not know their rights and they do not know whom to contact. He also explained the differences between the ‘ Indian Penal Code’ and the “Code of Criminal Procedures”. He said the role of PMI is to extend love and concern to our brothers and sisters behind bars. He also advised that PMI should have a better network and as a national organization must put social and political pressure for new laws for the protection of prisoners.
The second session began with the release of 3 books by Fr.Varghese Karippery, Co-founder of Prison Ministry India. The title of the books were a) Petals of Life by Fr.Sebastian, b) Can any Good come from the Prison by Sr.Jemma and C) Vimochana Dairy by Sr.Leena Kattokaran.
Divine Call to serve the Least, Lost and last
Fr.Varghese Karippery, Co-founder of Prison Ministry India, a simple and unassuming priest to look at, but with fire in his heart for the ministry, exploded the love bomb giving us a call to serve the last, least and lost. We finally got to meet the man who has coined the famous saying for Prison Ministry – ‘Be a Love Bomb and let it be exploded, not to kill, but to heal the broken hearts’. He said that Jesus needs radical and dynamic personalities to follow him and he encouraged and advised us not to be afraid of failures and shame, as through sufferings we are strengthened.
He took us on a delightful journey – right from the birth of Jesus Fraternity on 7th Dec. 1981 to date. He shared with us the hurdles as well as the joys he went through as well as the people involved in making the ministry what it is today. He said that yes, criminals have to be punished, but they must be given a second chance for renewal. He said that, but for the grace of God, we too could be in their place. At the end of his inspiring speech we felt that to be a volunteer is truly a divine call.
The afternoon session was given by Dr Kunjumon Chacko, The director of Prison Fellowship India. This was from him the Jesus Fraternity got more information to start the ministry for the lease, lost and last. He inspired the audience about the Reformation and Rehabilitation as a Divine responsibility.
Then there was a state wise gathering where in we shared what all the different units are doing in various prisons in their state.
All appreciated the documentary film, ‘Birds of Jesus Fraternity’ prepared by the seminarians. Depicting the purpose of this ministry and how prayerful and committed we must be in continuing this ministry for the glory of God. Bishop Peter Remigius read out the letter received from CBCI, the official recognition of Prison ministry as a separate desk under CBCI. Thereafter the state wise reports were presented.
At. 7 p.m we were entertained by the musicians of the Rex band, ‘Soul Café’, which filled our minds and hearts with joy. It was wonderful hearing the members from the B and share their “God” experience. It was a unique experience which lingered in our minds all through the night.
3rd Day – 13th October, 2010
Morning Prayer at 6.am. Morning prayers were conducted by Kerala State. Melodious hymns raised our hearts and minds to God to begin our third wonderful day and we all experienced the rays of Christ’s light shining on us.
Holy Eucharist at 6.30 a.m: The Holy Eucharist was in the Syro Malabar rite, presided b y the Archbishop of Kottayam, Most Rev. Mathew Moolakatt. He appreciated the work done by PMI all over the country and he invited all the delegates to be refilled with God’s grace to work in this ministry. It was again a new and wonderful experience for many.
1st session - Spirituality of Jesus Fraternity and Prison Ministry India.
Fr.Francis Kodiyan, the Co-founder of PMI said that spirituality is our personal relationship with Jesus and with our community members. According to him our spirituality is Jesus Centered Spirituality, People Oriented Spirituality, Spirituality of the Good Shepherd, Spirituality of the Father of the Prodigal Son and Reformative Spirituality. Jesus is the starting point and we carry this spirituality to the people. He said that those who visit the prison, have the spirituality of that of the Good Shepherd, those who work in rehabilitation centers of PMI, their spirituality is that of the Father of the Prodigal Son. He explained that Reformative spirituality is not only for prisoners, but it begins with ourselves as we are all in need of reformation. Thus Reformative spirituality starts with self, then prison, church, society and this the whole world will be reformed.
We were all happy at the kind and generous gesture of Tamil Nadu State volunteers, who came up and gave 1/3rd of their prison Ministry Sunday collection to the National office. Fr.Joekutty congratulated them and announced that Bangalore/ Karnataka has also sent their contribution and he invited others to do the same.
IInd session – 13th October, 2010
Dr.Ahmed, Director RICCA, Velloor, spoke about the R ole of PMI and Prison Officers towards Social Re-integration, Welfare and Rehabilitation of Prisoners. At the onset of his talk he told us about when he was appointed as Prison Officer way back in 1979, his Boss told him that, “Why have you come to this God-forsaken place? He also said that there are more dangerous people outside the prison than inside. He said that every prisoner undergoes a process of imprisonisation. This leads to severe damage to the prisoner and when the time of release arrives, every prisoner will be affected by 3 major consequences, i.e social, psychological and economical.
He said that in western countries the mechanism for rehabilitation is well organized. However, in India we are still working towards achieving it. He said that rehabilitation is necessary to avoid recidivism. He said that the most critical part of prisoner’s life is not when he enters, but when he comes out. Therefore a pre-release program must be conducted six months prior to his release to see what he needs. If the prison Dept. works together with NGOs only then something can be done.
He said that people must understand that whatever we do is for the overall social welfare therefore everyone must do their bit.
He said that punishment is given by the courts, and going to prison is the punishment, as liberty and right to certain freedoms, like freedom of movement, going to work, etc. are taken away. A person goes to jail as punishment and not for punishment; therefore Jail Authorities cannot inflict any further punishment on him.
It was great to hear that now the Govt. is professionally training young prison officers who believe in reformation and are welfare oriented towards the prisoners. He said that there are problems in rehabilitation as there is no continuity of institutional care programs with out side after care programs and the vocational training that prisoners receive is out dated and do not match with the competitive market outside. He said that to rectify this, statutory after-release programs have to be introduced. Maximum efforts have to be made to strengthen family ties after release. Must also involve community and voluntary agencies and must be encouraged to work in rehabilitation of prisoners. Liberal policy of release and parole would also be encouraged.
Mr. Alexander Jacob. ADGP, Kerala, spoke on Law and Order v/s Love and affection – Prison Dept and PMI. He was well versed about all that is concerned with prisons in the Bible and gave a number of quotations from the Old and New Testaments, and said that no other religion in the world has connection with prisoner. He said that every prisoner should undergo 5 types of reformation – Physical, Mental, intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual. He said that the Government takes care of the first four, and he himself gave us a number of examples how he has achieved these reformation. However, where spiritual reformation is concerned he threw the ball in our Court. He said that renewal, transformation is a special moment and in that moment a volunteer reaches out to him in love and understanding he wins a should for God and one soul saved is a great achievement and a great gift to God.
While giving the statistics and Plight of prisoners in overcrowded prisons, which nobody is bothered about, he said that only one IGP who refused to take a prisoner is Kiran Bedi. She put her foot down and refused to take-in even a single extra prisoner saying, “My jail is full”, We shod be inspired by Kiran Bedi’s courage.
At 6.pm one hour meaningful adoration was conducted by Charis Bhavan Retreat Centre, Kottyam. All were refreshed after the adoration. This was followed by dinner and then Rev.Frs. Thomas and Jose who were arrested in the mysterious death of Sr.Abhaya gave their testimonies as witnesses of hope. Fr. Thomas said that he was convinced that all this was as per God’s plan, because with God there are no so-incidences only God-incidences.
Fr.Jose urged us to continue the ministry with zeal and fervor as we are doing a lot of good for the prisoners.
Next we had the Cultural night at 8.30 p.m. organized by the seminarians, Kerala which was truly entertaining. The dance performed by the handicapped children touched the heart of every participants.
4th Day , 14th Oct. 2010
The day started at 6.00.p.m with the morning prayer, which was conducted by Goa, state, followed by the Holy Eucharist, celebrated by Rev.Monsignor Jose. Navez, the Vicar General of Vijayapuram Diocese. The message in his homily was – by caring for our brethren behind bars, we make them feel that they are all children of G od and God loves them. Monsgr Jose Navez blessed the Roasary which was prepared by the brothers of St.Thomas seminary and distributed to all the participants.
Rev. Fr.Alexander Kureekkattil, CMF spoke on Rehabilitation: Achallenge, ‘Jesus’ model Rehabilitation. He said that when harmony is lot the role of PMI is to regain that harmony. He quoted many life examples in order to make it easy for us to understand the word of God. He emphasized that unless the ‘Word’ touches our lives we will not be able to change our brethren. Our mission is to go with ‘Jesus’ the powerhouse, the ‘Word to our brethren. As we were coming close to the programmes of the convention Fr.Josekutty Kalayil, the national coordinator of PMI thanked everyone who had worked towards making this convention a success.
The valedictory function was started a 11 a.m in which Dr.Babu Paul, the Former chief Secretary of Kerala was the president. Most Rev. Peter Remigius, the Chairman of PMI welcomed everyone to the function and His grace Most Rev.Joseph Perumthottam, the archbishop of Changanachery, by lighting the jubilee lamp officially inaugurated the jubilee year of Jesus Fraternity. Most Rev.Stephen Athipozhyil, the bishop of Alleppey released the Jubilee souvenir. The dignitaries who were present at the function felicitated Jesus Fraternity and encouraged the volunteers to go forward with more enthusiasm. The Founder fathers of Jesus Fraternity/ Prison Ministry India were honored by Fr.George Kuttickal by giving them memento and shawl. The founders led the members into jubilee prayer and all the participants together took the pledge to commit oneself more fully for the cause of people suffering in the prison. Finnally Fr.Josekutty presented the vote of thanks and the convention programme got over by 1.15 p.m
Thereafter the members from different states went for a pilgrimage to St.Alphonsa’s tomb which was truly a heavenly experience for all.
The hospitality and service of the seminarians and organizing committee was awesome and appreciated by all. With colorful memories in heart and giving the assurance to pray for each other and work for the least, lost and last the participants left for their own respective places.
On 8th of Nov. 2007 the national conference of Prison Ministry India was started at St. Philomena’s College compound with more than 200 participants from all over India. The conference inaugural session was presided over by Most. Rev.Thomas Vashapilly, bishop of Mysore and Most. Rev. Peter Remigius was the chief guest of the inaugural session. Fr. Josekutty Kalayil, the national coordinator of Prison Ministry India welcome the gathering. After the inaugural session there was a panel discussion with the following members as panelists .
Various other eminent personalities such as Sr. Selmi, the sister of Sr. Rani Maria, Justice Mallimath, Mr. Remesh DGP,Prof. V. K. Jose were giving various sessions in this conference. The vakedictory function were presided by Mr. Justice Cyriac Joseph, Chief Justice of Karnataka. About 225 people participated in the conference. Sr. Genevieve was the state coordinator of Karnataka State who managed to arrange all the things for the conference.
Empower the brethren in Prison for the Society and prepare the Society for them” was the theme of 8th National convention held in Pastoral centre, Arera Colony, Bhopal, Madhyapradesh from 12th to 15th of November, 2004. Fr. Sebastian Vadakumpadan the national coordinator of prison ministry India welcomed the participants for the gathering. Archbishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Paschal Topno, Archbishop of Bhopal presided over the inaugural session and Shri. Achay Kumar Addl. District Judge was the chief guest stressed the need of the ministry in present situation. Rev. Dr. Gerald Almedia, the bishop of Jabalpur was also motivating the participants for the ministry. Rt. Rev. Bishop Peter Remigius, the patron of prison Ministry India gave the patron’s voice out of his experience in collaborating with prison ministry during the last years. Shri. Purushothaman, the superintendent of Central prison, Mrs. Ruchi Gosh speaker for street children, Mrs. Archana Sahay, director of childline,Shri. K. D. Shukla, former chairman of Human Rights Commission, Sr. S.C. Agarwal IPS. Retd DIG of Police, were the speakers of the convention. There was also visit of ISI certified prison of Central Prison of Bhopal and it was really a wonderful experience. Various cultural programmmes from the neighboring communities, group sharing and discussions, personal sharing of Sr. Carmalitta and Fr. Joy Cheradiyil were the enriching experiences for the participants. There were about 230 participants for the gathering.
Prison Ministry India conducted its VII National Convention from 12th to 15th of October, 2002 at Santhome Community Centre, Chennai, Tamilnad. The public function address was inaugurated by Mr. Bhola Nath I.P.S, additional DGP and Most Rev. Mar Baselius, the president of CBCI was the president of inaugural session. The meeting was so blessed by the presence of Justice A. Packia Raj, High Court of Karnataka, Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter Remigius, the patron of Prison Ministry India, and Rev. Sr. Prudentia FSJ, Assistant General. There were many prominent sessions on prison ministry, legal awareness, and group sharing and state level future plans were actively participated by all. The presence of a great lady, Smt. Kiran Bedi I.P.S. the first IPS lady and first lady superintendent of Tihar Ashram was so enriching and her experience Sharing was so touching to the participants. Fr. Sebastian Vadakumpadan, Fr. Antony Raja and Mr. Jesu Raja were the national coordinator and State coordinator and the state secretary of Prison Ministry India respectively for the coordination of the convention. About 200 volunteers participated in the convention.
Power to correct through prison management by
Kiran Bedi, ( the session taken by Kiran Bedi during the convention)
Our prisons do not reform criminals, they breed them. This scenario can be altered if the management so posted or entrusted with prison responsibility adds value to their prison assignments.
Having visited prisons around the world, all in liberal democracies, many prisons seem to have become airtight warehouse of human beings. Teenagers graduated to become lifers. Thiers friends mostly being prison inmates and prison their first home. On release the left behind inmates wait to celebrate their early return.
Why does this happen? Why aren’t prisons correctional centers as they are called and claim to be? It is perhaps the way we administer. Since many of the managers consider prisons to be backyard postings. They add punishment to their work by indifferent administration. When I entered Tihar prison in 1993 this is what I saw which is indicative of what exists normally in prisons.
"Prisons, as institutions are completely isolated. Contrary to the requirements of a correctional centre, each wing of the criminal justice system deals with prisoners in its own way, without any cohesion. This is how it appears to be functioning………."
"Internal management of prisoners appears to be that of a guard preventing escapes and internal riots. Hence it is more under the charge of warders and head warders, despite the presence of officers, who perform only distant supervisory roles."
"The supervisory ranks are distant. The official hierarchy closes in with its positive capacity. The vulture seemed to symbolize it the best."
Prisons end up contaminating more than correcting. The prison environment aids inmates build criminal bonding rather than individual realization of what goes wrong with them. It encourages feelings of revenge rather than redemption. Prisoners practice and suffer violence, and one disease to which they all fall prey is lethargy.
Prisons normally have a system of head counts and lock ups. A place where the occupants do not sleep at night, for various reasons, the night sounds resemble those of a zoo. A place inhabited by humans to whom it hardly mattered whether it was day or night! The drawings show that there is no difference in the prisoners’ activities, between day and night. They sleep through the day, or keep awake through the night.
During my recent visit to a western prison a modern, women correctional centre, I noticed that it had the state of the art facilities, including a swimming pool and a gymnasium but also had a totally polluted environment. There wasn’t single woman inmate who I did not see smoking. Most of them appeared heavily addicted and were burning their time and youth away. What can one expect from such persons on their release? Nothing… They will continue to be a heavy social liability with enormous community costs. No one denies that crimes must be punished. No one disputes that criminals have to be sent to prisons by due process by due process of law. But being in prison and losing one’s freedom is punishment enough why do we add to it by not giving the inmate space to breathe and keeping him caged for most of the day and night? This is nothing short of making animals out of human beings. In such situations, prisons in fact increase the danger to society rather than reducing it.
Prisons are for punishment but we forget they are also for preparation for release. A prison is like a flowing river in which offenders. Inmates and convicts come and go and thank god, they do go. Otherwise hell would no meo9re be imaginary. It would be available in every city of the world. I firmly believe that when prisons do not prepare prisoners for release, they in fact directly endanger society including the tax payers that actually pay the price for the so called correctional centers.
If prisoners are not to be human ware houses or landfills but meaningful “correctional centers” then they have to be taken charge of. Prison managers must see that inmates use their time to re-engineer their minds, and are provided the tools which facilitate individual recovery, whether direct or indirect, visible or invisible, conscious or subtle. Recovery will need to be holistic. An enabling environment skillfully crafted and sustained by prison managers and not imposed or introduced by inmates.
On arrival at the prison, individuals must be informed and counseled on the activity schedule based on the mission statement of the correctional centre this will be the first clear message to the inmate: that he is not here to drift but to work his sails. The preparation for release should begin from the first day it shouldn’t matter whether the inmate is there for a few days or for life. No one should be allowed to waste away the time. Time inside the prison is precious and it has to be value added.
To make this possible, the basic requirements would be to enable extensive learning.
All this is possible and much more, only if the political and civil administration believes in the mission that while being sent to prison is a punishment, preparing inmates for the release is the primary duty of the prison administration. Therefore all that goes into a holistic correction would need to be explored and regularly evolved. One of the most facilitating methods of this, which can be considered, is the community entry into the prison. By this I mean seeking out to the individuals or organized groups from the community who are willing to volunteer time out of a strong missionary spirit, and offer their special skills. They will surface only if prison administration seeks out for them. Of course, the Govt, And the funding agencies can step in to support. This is one of the many keys to social integration, social recovery and social reform.
I propose here a simple prison management model, which can effectively y lead to crime prevention. It is the 3 C model. The three C’s standing for corrective, collective, community based prison management. Corrective, as it is aimed at correction; collective as it is a joint effort involving the inmates, the prison staff, the management and the government and non governmental agencies from outside and; community based as all the units involved, work as a community to achieve their collective goals.
"The 3C model is based on internal cohesion and external coordination and participation. This is holistic approach to restoration of prisoners."
Prison Ministry India conducted its 6th national convention from 25th to 27th of October, 2000 at Birdy, Hyderabad, Andrapradesh. The inaugural was presided over by Most Rev. S Arulappa , Archbishop Emeritus of Hyderabad and the chief guest of the function was Sri. T. Devender Goud the honourable Home Minister of AP. The following day’s sessions were conducted by Fr. and Adv. P. D. Mathew, M. V. Krishna Rao, IGP of AP, Alikhan the retired Chief Justice and Fr. Varghese Karippery, founder father of PMI. The tremendous significance of this convention was that the valedatery function was conducted at Chellappilly Central Prison. His excellency C. Rangarajan, Honourable Governor of AP was the chief guest of the function. The meeting was presided over by bishop Peter Remigius, the patron of Prison Ministry India. There were about 230 participants for the convention. Sr. Leena Kattookaran was the state coordinator of Prison Ministry India in Ap.
Prison Ministry India conducted its fifth national convention from 12 to 14th of Nov. 1999 at Bosco School, Nitika, Culcutta, westbangal. In the first of day of convention the executive members had their executive meeting and on 12 th of November at evening there was the inauguration of the convention. The convention was inaugurated by the Vicar General Msgr. Francis Gomes. Fr. Francis the salesian provincial presided over the meeting. About 120 people participated in the convention.The following day was given for input sessions on the basic chrisms of prison ministry and legal awareness for prison ministry volunteers. The second was kept for the sharing of volunteers from different states and the following day was charted for the state wise gathering for the future plans of each state basing the understanding of national convention.
Prison Ministry India conducted its fourth national convention from 4th to 6th of December, 1998 at retreat house, Mumbai, Maharashtra. Fr. Varghese Karippery was the national coordinator of PMI who arranged the national gathering and master mind behind the gathering. The inaugural function of the national convention was inaugurated by by Cardinal Simon Pimento who appreciated the work of PMI and its style of work. The meeting was presided over by Very Rev. Fr. Augustine Kanjamala SVD, the provincial superior, Bandra. The sessions are dealt with the topics such as biblical basis of Prison Ministry India, cause of crime and its effect and a Christian response, prison ministry in present context, and three “R” theory. About 110 people from 14 states participated in the meeting. Fr. Varghese Karippery handed over his responsibility of national coordinator to Fr. Sebastian Theckanath, a diocesan priest of Ernakulam- Angamally Archdiocese.
The Prison Ministry India invited all the 250 units and about hundred people representing various units participated in the meeting conducted from 26th of to 26 October, 1997 at D.B.C.L.C, Trichur, Kerala, India. The main objective of this gathering is to help those who are already engaged in this apostolate and those interested to work in this apostolate and those interested to work in this field, by highlighting the dynamics and spirituality of this noble mission. The inaugural function of this meeting was done by His Grace Rt. Rev. Dr. Jacob Thoomkuzhy, Archbishop of Trichur and meeting was presided over by Sri. Tikaram Meena IAS, collector of Trichur.
This convention also witnessed the public meeting during the meeting with the participation of other people from different places. The public meeting was inaugurated by Justice V. R. Krishna Iyyer and was presided over by Rt. Rev. Joseph Kunukulam Archbishop Emritus, Trichur Archdiocese.
The second national convention of Prison Ministry India was conducted at Navinta Retreat centre, in Delhi from 22 to 24th of September, 1995. From ten states people participated in the convention. The national convention was blessed with the Bl. Mother Theressa who inaugurated the convention and Most Rt. Rev. Alen De Lastic , Archbishop of Delhi presided over the function.
The message of Mother Teresa
Let us ask our lady to give us her heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate her heart is full of loving and humility that we may be able to receive Jesus and love him as she loved him and take care of him as she took care of him.
Let us thank lord for his great love to share the joy of loving. It is a beautiful gift of god to take of people men and women in jail. It is something beautiful for god and is a real gift of god. I remember last time I met our chief minister and he told me that there are girls in jail and he wants to send them to me. I went and found 34 young girls all beautiful girls; they were there because they were caught for pr4ostitution. They were put to such life. Police caught them and put them into jail. When I told them that I can take them, they were all very happy. They were all put into the street by their own family members. When I went to them they asked mother do something, they are not guilty. We have not done anything wrong. So I gave them a word that I will do something in time I was able to take them out. Now there are 150 of them young and old people.
Such a tremendous change is there in their life and what is most beautiful in that we had such a big number of families bringing them food cloths and so on. Even a big group of men came together and made a society. The name of that society is “Hope” and the aim of the society is to help the people. They had a meeting and decided who is the most hopeless person now Mother Theresa. So they all started to raise money together and also collect things for the jail people. I was so much touched by this young people that they make so much sacrifice to help these unwanted young girls.
Then I started to work to get another 75 and government was happy to release all to them. They are all beautifully with me in Shanthi Dhan which means gift of peace. They are all being taught handwork by the sister. Some group of ladies also organized themselves to help them.
Then I started a bank account for them to make some future project for them. We have to settle them In life. We hope to settle them with the money that is grown in the bank account. We have absolutely no trouble with anybody and there is such love, joy and peace and it has been a real gift of god for our Hindu families also. It has brought them to know love and to share that love with them.
One day the top man of the Calcutta eminently came and asked what he can do. I said we have these young ladies and so teach them something. Now every day they came and teach English and Bengali and bring them to a certain standard. This created such wonderful unity among them. So much of sacrifice is being made by our Hindu families and then there is something unbelievable. We never thought there would be so much of peace, unity and love among them. Now the government has passed a law that non criminals should not be taken to jail. So they asked me take 35 young men also from jail. So they asked me take 35 young men also from jail and have arranged the missionaries of charity brothers to take care of them. There are 22 more when I leave to Calcutta. So I will have 57 young beautiful girls. Hope some schools will come forward to help with education. So that their future is with secure. Government is ready to give any kind of help. I will have to get somebody to help the older ones also. There is such a beautiful spirit among them. I think we could continue doing something like that also in Delhi and Bombay.
Let us thank the lord for this gift to share the tender love of Jesus in the nearest of so many people. The face of these women are completely changed because they are at so much of peace and so anxious to be loved and to grow. Many are making big sacrifices to come and help those in jail.
Let us thank the lord for his love. The other day some protestant families came together and gathered about 500 Sarees and gave them to me for the jail people. I think that was a wonderful thoughtful gesture of sharing. We had even Brahmin ladies who come to help the girls. Anyone who can help as nurses or teachers are welcome.
I am very happy that the church is the first one to be there to start this beautiful work. I will be very happy if some of you who are in Calcutta can come and organize this work with them especially for the older ones. What is most interesting is to see them pray together. I believe when the sisters go for meditation, they are praying for them. We see a beautiful spirit among them. One big beautiful thing is that it has created a good relation between Hindus and catholic’s. They are appreciating the work so much. I have never seen that clearly before. Let us thank the lord for his great love. I want you all to help in some way to teach these girls something more that we can arrange for their future. I am also taking 35 men with the brothers some can help with them also. Many are coming forward in Bombay to help me.
So let us thank god for his great love in giving this beautiful opportunity to us to do something beautiful for god to give tender love and care to our brothers and sisters.
Year Of Convention