“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.
Year Of Convention