Celebrating Christmas behind prison Bars
Christmas without Christ is a mess.
In your disappointment, God has an appointment
- Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb
PRISON inmates at the Correctional Facility, Bomana, Port Moresby spent a unique day in prayer and entertainment, recalling the birth of Christ the Saviour and celebrating an early Christmas.
It was the first visit for Archbishop Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal, Apostolic Nuncio to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to the facility. The inmates of the maximum security were joined by the female, juvenile and minimum security. Amongst the inmates, were two refugees present.
The Apostolic Nuncio, representative of Pope Francis was welcomed by Chief Superintendent Commanding Officer Supt. Haraha Keko DCS of the Correctional Centre. He expressed his gratitude for the spiritual benefit received by the inmates through the involvement of Catholic Church. He was especially grateful for the weekly visits and catechism sessions of the Missionaries of Charity. He highlighted the need to offer innovative programs that will prepare the inmates make the necessary adjustments for their return to society. “We believe in giving life a second chance,” said the superintendent.
The atmosphere was relaxed, calm and joyful as the over 700 persons sat in their different sections throughout the celebrations. Prison officers, Inspector Laka Gaoma, Discipline Officer, Sgt. Lani Pilai, Chaplain and Spiritual Program Coordinator, Senior Inspector Dickson Kakoyan and other officers were present.
The Apostolic Nuncio was joined by Fr. Ignatius Jayaraj SVD, Prison Chaplin, Fr. Emmanuel V. Lapaz, cm, Parish priest and Fr. Ambrose Pereira sdb, CBC Youth and Communications Secretary. After the welcome address, he prayerfully celebrated the Eucharist.
In his homily, the Archbishop dwelt on the loving presence of God in the life of each person. He reminded them of the words of scripture, ‘Fear not, I am with you’. (Is 41:13). He invited the inmates to place their plans in the God’s hands, as God plans their future. Commenting on the experience of the loneliness of Pastor Jim Bakker, who spent five years in prison, he encouraged the inmates to get to know their God, not be disappointed, but hear the voice of God saying, ‘I have brought you here, not to punish you, but to get you to know me.’ His strong insistence was to ensure that Christ has a place in each of our hearts and that He is the main focus of Christmas. “It’s a struggle, as we are engulfed in materialism and consumerism. Yet, Christmas without Christ, is a mess”, he said.
The Eucharistic celebration was followed by songs, dances and a nativity play by the Juvenile and the female unit. These were much appreciated. The Nuncio then wished each inmate and personally gave them a Christmas gift packet. Food and drinks were then enjoyed by everyone.
The program was organized by the Missionaries of Charity sisters and coordinated by Sr. Anto Terese mc, the community of Tokarara and Hanuabada, prison officers and the different groups at the prison.
May the celebration mark the beginning of good things in our lives.