“Be a Love Bomb: Let it explode, not to kill but to heal broken hearts”
The 12th National Conference of Prison Ministry India
Introduction: The Prison Ministry India, a national voluntary organization working for the release, reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners, conducted its 12th National Conference from 23rd Oct 2018 to 26th Oct 2018 at Christ the Bearer of Good News Cathedral Church Auditorium, Rukminigaon, Dispur, Guwahati, Assam with the theme of ‘You are not Alone’. Around 6 bishops, 97 priests, 216 nuns and 197 lay people from northern, north-eastern, central and southern India marked their presence in the conference. On all four days there were sub-themes based on which each day’s conference was held; motivating the volunteers with the sharing of experiences and the message:
‘You are not alone in Prayer,
You are not alone in Suffering,
You are not alone in Joy,
You are not alone in Mission.’
The First Day
The participants were arriving from morning and the National office members and North East regional members were busy in receiving the participants from the railway station and from the airport. Morning at 8.30 am the national office members and the regional office members were for the registration to the accommodation places and at 3.30 all returned after the registration. The conference commenced with the Holy Eucharist on 23rd evening at 5.30 pm by Most. Rev. Michael Akasius Toppo, the Chairman of North East PMI with the sub theme of ‘You are not alone in Prayer’
He implored the blessings and the graces of the Almighty upon the Conference and all it’s events. The special blessings were poured upon all the participants of the Conference, the organising committee and on all our brethren behind the bars. The Liturgy and Choir was arranged by SMI Sisters.
At 6. 45 pm Northeast Cultural connect was organized by Fr. Ivan Vas SVD, The Director, Shalom (Northeast Regional Justice Peace and Development society) for all the participants. All gathered at the auditorium and the programme began with Prayer Dance by SMI Candidates and welcome address given by Fr. Ivan Vas SVD, followed by Arunachal dance Monfort School, Bodo Dance by St Antony School, North Guwahati, Khasi Dance by St. savior School, SMMI Sisters, Baridua, Meghalaya, Bihu Dance by Little Flower school, MSMHC Sisters, Hatogoan, Chero (Bamboo) Dance by Monfort School, Nepali Dance by St. Francis De school, Narengi. The dances were excellent and it was amazing. The Northeast culture was presented and all the participants were excited and with this event all were welcomed to the Northeast.
The Second Day
The day began with Morning Prayer with the sub theme of the day “You are not alone in suffering”. Morning Prayer, Holy Eucharist and adoration was animated by Kerala state. The Holy Eucharist was presided over by Most. Rev. Peter Remigius, the former chairman of Prison Ministry India. The first session of the day was “Prison Pulse” shared by Mr. Alex from Bangalore and Mr. Akash singh from Guwahati. They shared their experience, mental, psychological and physical agony as prisoner, their loneliness inside the prison and the service and support extended by the prison ministry volunteers. Fr. Xavier Lakra, Assam State Coordinator was the moderator of the session.
The inaugural function and a welcome note by the PMI National Coordinator Fr. Sabastian Vadakumpadan, followed by the address by the guest-of-honour, the Honourable Justice T. Vaiphai, the Chairman of Human Rights Commission Assam, presidential address by His Grace the Most Rev. John Moolachira, and address by the Most Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas, the General Secretary of CBCI. Thoughtful messages were also given by Ranjana Sharma, the IGP of prisons, the Most Rev. Alwyn D'Silva, Chairman of Prison Ministry India and by the Most Rev. Bishop Peter Remigius, the former Chairman and Fr. Francis Kodiyan, the co-founder of Prison Ministry India.
A brief history of Prison Ministry was presented by Fr. Francis Kodiyan, co-founder of the ministry, leading with the story of Alibaba where Alibaba needed EQ, IQ, and LQ. LQ is a spiritual quotient. He said it was a spiritual ministry. We need to have recourse to the most Holy Eucharist and prayer, where we receive LQ, as a “Love bomb” to heal, by receiving and maintaining a personal relationship with the Lord. The divine experience with the Eucharist would give us the wherewithal to overcome disagreement, disunity, misunderstanding etc.
The following books were released at the time of inauguration. ‘Souvenir’ of Prison Ministry India, Love Bomb: Prisoners’ Reformation Trajectory, Create Homes not Cells, Volunteer’s Guide, Best Practices of Prison Ministry India, the Calendar and the T. Shirt were released.
There were 3 competitions were conducted on behalf of 12th National Conference.
Prisoners Life Story writing competition, Essay Writing competition and skit script writing competition and prizes were distributed to the 3 winners of each competition.
The Inaugural function came to the conclusion with the recitation of the Pledge of Prison Ministry India said by Most. Rev. Allwyn D’Silva, the Chairperson of Prison Ministry India and all the participants repeated after him.
Sr. Lettitia UFS, Northeast Regional Coordinator proposed vote of thanks and PMI and National Anthem was sung and all dispersed for the lunch.
“I have been waiting for this for a long time.
But who will take me to jail?”
Was the question asked Sr. Selmy FCC to Fr. Swamy Sadanand when she wanted to forgive Samundar Singh who killed her sister. “Victim offender and Reconciliation” talk about Blessed Rani Maria was given by her own sister Sr. Selmy FCC and the source was from Fr. Francis Kodiyan, and the moderator was Fr. G. J. Anthonyswamy, Tamilnadu state Coordinator. Sr. Selmy shared about her, as a devout child how Blessed Rani maria grew up in an ordinary family, her desire to join the religious life, her missionary spirit, love for the poor and to die for the poor. She also focused on the act of forgiveness from the part of Blessed Rani Maria and her whole family. They have forgiven a murderer and he has become a living witness today.
The workshop on Constitution was conducted on 10 different topics and the entire participants were divided into 10 groups. The resource persons of the workshop were lawyers and they were welcomed by Fr. Ravi Sagar and Sr. Shobha. The participant’s doubts were cleared by the resource persons.
“We have to heal people in prison, who want to repent,
Who want to become better”
After the group discussions the Mizoram state coordinator, Fr. Praveen Fernandez introduced the Archbishop of Guwahati. The Archbishop was instrumental in the starting of the PMI in the North-East. He spoke about the situation and the cases there at present like petty cases, political cases, etc. He stated that we should not be judgemental while dealing with people. People would not respond at the time but they will respond in time. In the current situation our lands are being challenged, and our services are being questioned.
Our presence is hated; there is an increase of migrations, corruption, terrorism etc. We need to be careful. Anger is growing in the world. Right and legitimate anger, anger against colonialism, Dalit anger etc., are used towards its own purposes. At times we are activists, but many a times we are victims. He stated that we should heal this kind of anger. He introduced his book explaining anger and the cycle of suffering caused by anger. He also explained about stored anger. We have to heal people in prison who want to repent, want to become better. We need to work inside and outside for better relationships.
State Reports: Gujarat, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal and Goa state committees presented their reports. The activities were at the level of renewal, reformation and rehabilitation.
National Executive Body Meeting: The National Executive Body meeting was held at 5.15 pm and 19 members of the National Executive Body were present. Meeting started with the prayer, led by Sr. Regina, followed by the self-introduction of the members. Bp. Allwyn D’silva, the Chairman of Prison Ministry India was welcomed by Fr. Sebastian, the National Coordinator. The previous minutes of the meeting was presented by Sr. Lini MSC, the National Secretary and Mr. Jesuraja proposed and Fr. Xavier Lakra seconded the minutes. Bp. Petr Remigius asked for some clarifications on the State Conference and it was clarified by Fr. Sebastian. Finance Report was presented by Sr. Regina, the Treasurer.
After the Adoration and rosary conducted by U. P State and Dinner, the cultural connect was conducted by Don Bosco Institute, Guwahati and they presented all states culture and it was amazing.
The Third Day
The third day began with the Morning Prayer conducted by Jharkhand State and the Holy Eucharist was celebrated by Most. Rev. John Moolachira, the archbishop of Guwahati and the Liturgy and Choir was prepared by SMI Sisters, Guwahati.
A PMI Volunteer – a Gift of God
Fr. Varghese Karippery, the Founder of Prison Ministry India, in his speech began by quoting Mother Theresa who had told him that working among prisoners was God’s work and volunteers were God’s Gift. He explained that the Charism was being a love bomb that was born out of prayer. It had all started within a group in a small cabin. Later they were given the opportunity to visit all the jails in Kerala. He further said that we needed to follow the methodology of Jesus. We are God’s gifts to others. Explaining the goal of PMI he said that we should allow prisoners to be touched and allow others to touch Jesus through us. As God’s gift we were ambassadors. If we add love to the sufferings it becomes sacrifice. PMI is group work, so we need to be united. As individuals we may draw success but not grace. He added that we should be like the mobile phone of Jesus which should be fully charged and should stay connected to Jesus always. He stated that Prison Ministry was a service where Jesus alone could thrive. So, as religious people we could do wonders wherever we were.
Perspective of different religion on Prison and Prisoner
In the panel discussion, “Prison and Prisoners from the point of a Hindu religious Person”, Dr Bhabesh Kumardas began by reciting a Hindu mantra and introduced the goal of Ramakrishna Mission Ashram. He stated that there was no difference, all were good and all were well, etc. He added that being alone we become like prisoners. We always like to amass fortunes rather than suffering. To do away with suffering we need emotional support and moral strength. Lasting peace is needed for our existence. He quoted Swami Vivekananda on finding God in everything. And he quoted Valmiki who had written in Ramayana “Hate the sin and not the sinner”.
Mr Nurul Laskar, on “Prison and Prisoners from the point of a Muslim religious Person”, said that 5 practices make a Muslim. India is the third largest Muslim population in the world. Explaining the situation in Islamic nations he said that there were very few prisons there, but punishments were severe. Muslims have to say prayers at sun rise and sun set; there is a time set for every activity. So there were fewer crimes but now the times have changed as have our perspective. Here are no separate jails as per one’s religion. He quoted the book on ‘Rights of prisoners according to Islamic law’. Prisons should have safety and security. Therefore there should be separate cells for men and women. According to him the high rate of illiteracy among Muslims should be the bigger concern that leads to higher incidence of criminals and people landing in prison. He explained the work he did for prisoners in his youth and he concluded his message appreciating Prison Ministry and all the work it does.
Dr Biju SDB, on “Prison and Prisoners from the point of a Christian religious Person”, started quoting how and why importance is given to prisoners. Important personalities in the Bible were incarcerated in prison. The Bible says prisoners are innocent therefore punishments should not be harsh. But today hurt people are hurt more inside the jails. The Bible presents the messianic mission as setting prisoners free. God is the liberator. Our God is just and merciful. Therefore we need to be merciful to and forgiving of offenders. We need to see to the need of the prisoner and attend to Jesus through that need. He quoted Mother Mary who accompanied the convict to the cross. We as disciples of Jesus need to constantly affirm that Jesus is with us and that ‘We are not alone’. The questions were also clarified and the Moderator was Dr. Immanuel Uppathadathil MSFS.
In the next panel discussion Shri. Siddhartha Bhattacharya from Assam talked on the topic of ‘Legislation and Prisoners’. He said that people generally think of prison as a place of cruelty. But he assured us that prison was a place of reformation just like cultural centres. Usually the authorities are criticised. He explained about the procedures in jail. He said they attend to prisoners like people who attend to their health at home. He explained how they make them feel that they are not alone; they treat them with friendliness and not as if an obligation. Prisoners’ right of access to family members is availed through telephone booths. They teach them some life skills along with vocational training so that when (s)he is out (s)he gains whatever (s)he had lost. Tailoring sections, computer skills, art, etc. are made available so that there are very less instances of sexual harassments, riots, etc. inside the jails. More and more reformative measures are welcomed. On this front the PMI team was appreciated. They were welcomed to take up new initiatives.
‘Judiciary and Prisoners’: Rights of the prisoner from the judicial perspective were explained by the member secretary of Assam assembly, Shri. S. N. Sharma. He congratulated all the delegates who were helping prisoners. Crime was the outcome of time. So the jail should be hospital for the cure of crime. Reformation is the main purpose of imprisoning a person. Prisoners’ rights are human rights. The judiciary is taking care of their rights. From 1950, since the constitution was put in place, these rights were allotted to prisoners. The judiciary sees to it that the rights of prisoners are not violated. Towards this end a committee is also set up. Acquittal and rehabilitation committees are also set up of which the Chief Judicial Officer is the head.
‘Judiciary and Prison activists’: Activist Shrimathi Rosanna Lyngdoh, Board Director, Impulse NGO Network gave us the perspective of judiciary and prison activists on the rights of prisoners. She began by saying that building happiness is required to bring down crime. Leaders need to make efforts to put happiness in place. She cited an example of a young girl of 11 years who committed a crime; but she said lock-up is not a friendly place for an 11-years-old. It should be a location that allows people to live with dignity. She illustrated the story of a young girl who did not get legal help to come out of prison. After she concluded, we proceeded with finding answers to our pressing questions concerning legal issues.
‘Prison and Prisoners’:Shri. Ranjan Sharma, IGP in his message stated, “…The issues concerning correction and rehabilitation are so complex, that governmental efforts howsoever serious and sincere are not enough to address them properly unless supplemented by community participation and supports. While prison inmates need to be assisted towards gainful engagement after release, it is also important to save their indigent families from ruination during prolonged incarceration of the bread-earners. Similar care also needs to be taken of the families of homicidal victims who happened to be chief earning members for the families. Unfortunately, there is an acute dearth of voluntary organizations, with dedicated charters, for aid and welfare for the offenders, or their aftercare and rehabilitation, let alone welfare of their families, or of victims’ families. In such a scenario, PMI stands out as a welcome example of societal response and support in this field. I am told that the organization has more than 30 years’ record of service, in the field of welfare, renewal and rehabilitation of prison inmates, and it also aims at the welfare of their families, as well as victims’ families. So far as Assam is concerned the programmes of moral discourse and cultural performance etc., conducted by PMI in a few prisons of the State, have been well-received by the inmates.” The Moderator of the panel discussion was Fr. Ravi Sagar.
Prison Ministry India and Rehabilitation
Sr. Clara from Jeevodhaya Rehabilitation Centre for released women prisoners, in her sharing detailed about the origin and growth of the Prison Ministry as she was one of the pioneer volunteers in Bangalore. Then she continued to explain about the rehabilitation centre. She said the inmates may look happy but they have a lot of grief in their hearts. It should not be a boarding, it should be a home-away-from-home, and it is a way of life. When they come they are allowed to be what they want to be. Slowly they change and gradually they are occupied by engaging in different kinds of skill-set training etc. She added that if they come to know about the inmates’ abilities, they help them to continue their studies or work. She further explained the risks in handling these girls. She illustrated with the story of a girl who had a series of complaints. Sr. Clara emphasized that to start a rehabilitation centre no qualification is needed but that God qualifies; no abilities are needed, but only availability is needed.
State Reports: Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Orissa, Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Northeast states committees presented their reports. The activities were at the level of renewal, reformation and rehabilitation.
Regional wise Discussion
All the participants were asked to go to their groups for the region-wise discussions and the following were the points discussed for better regional growth:
Regional wise election was conducted to the new national executive body and also formation of Regional Executive Body took place.
At 6.30 pm Adoration and rosary was conducted Maharashtra state and after the dinner there was wonderful and excellent “Cultural Night” prepared by the participants from all the states and it was coordinated by National team members. It added light and colour to the conference. Every state participated and presented their culture.
The Fourth Day
The fourth day begun well with the Praise and Worship Service by Sr. mary Mathew SMI and by Fr. Thomas Ettiyil VC at Christ the Bearer of Good News Cathedral Church. The heavenly blessings poured upon all the participants as all raised their voices up to heaven with loud praises.
North East Pulse was shared by the volunteers, Sr. Rosia BS and Mr Francis Thantluanga. They shared their personal experience of working for the vulnerable ones, the brethren behind the bars.
There was also a special sharing by Mr Anto Akkara, a writer and an activist on the theme of “Innocents in Prisons” who shared about the Kandhamal experience. Mr Anto Akkara, who is an activist and journalist, presented many incidents pertaining to various people at Kandhamal. He said there were seven poor and innocent people languishing in the jail for 10 years including a mentally-challenged man. He conveyed the message with documentary films. He said none of the Christians had become Hindus even after so much torture, but rather many Hindus had become Christians. He has travelled far and wide addressing people from various capacities and campaigning for the release of these seven prisoners.
Mr Francis, a retired State Bank employee, from Mizoram who is an active lay volunteer for PMI shared his experience. He said that he was unaware of anything about the outside world other than the bank and money, but he was inspired by Ms Merlin’s sacrifice to start an office and the ministry. He said in Mizoram they had 0.5 percentage of Catholic population and they were like the salt of the earth in prison.
General body Meeting- Future plans
The meeting began at 9.20 am and was presided over by the Most Rev. Peter Remigius, the former chairperson of Prison Ministry India. Bro. Naveen Ekka said a small prayer at the beginning of the meeting and all the members were welcomed by Bp. Peter Remigius. Sr. Lini MSC, the National Secretary presented the minutes of the last General Body Meeting. Then Bp. Peter Remigius explained to us the obligations of the Annual General Body Meeting and of the approval of minutes, approval of accounts and elections. Members were also given a clear picture of the present financial status in detail. He said that the caritas fund was from local caritas for the vehicles and other than that there were no project funds. Mr Alwares proposed and Mr Rajendran and Bro. Sunnilal seconded and everyone approved this. But there was an objection from Fr. Wilfred Fernandes, Maharashtra State Coordinator who pointed out that the persons who proposes and seconds must be persons who had attended the last General Body Meeting. He was applauded for his valid and immediate response. Then Fr. Timothy Victor Pinto, Orissa State Coordinator approved the minutes.
Further Fr. Sebastian was asked to present the future plan, which was as follows:
After this the memorandum was presented to the group by Mr Jesuraj, Secretary of Tamilnadu PMI.
The Conference came to it’s conclusion with the Holy Mass presided over by Most. Rev. Allwyn D’Silva, the Chairperson of Prison Ministry India and liturgy and choir was organised MSMHC Sisters. With the lighted candle all the participants took pledge.
There are about 6000 volunteers including priests, nuns, brothers and lay persons involved in this ministry. The volunteers regularly visit the prisons to counsel, to provide medical aid and to prepare for further studies, and also visit the families of both victims and prisoners for taking care of the requirements of their family members. There are 30 rehabilitation centers set apart for the care of released prisoners, children of prisoners and the victims to give them hope, help and love. The objective of the conference was to weave together views and ideas and exchange these with the government authorities for the welfare of prisoners and the future of the PMI.
The theme of the conference "You are not alone" gave the message to the PMI volunteers that in our ministry work of reaching out to the prisoners and their families, we are together in spirit, together in our joy and suffering, in our mission and in prayer that strengthens and binds us to each other; and this is the very message that the volunteers should be conveying to our brothers and sisters behind the bars. ‘You are not alone’ should be reinforced through our interactions with them and help them reform their lives within and outside the prison walls.
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.
Year Of Convention