In Trentham the Sisters are involved in Prison Ministry and also support various activities in the local Parish.
What does Prison work involve?
Picture the scene, a young mother finds herself in prison, being ‘sent down’ for five years. She has lost her freedom but what worries her most is her children. Who will look after them? Will they get to school? What happens when they fall sick? These are the worries that we, as chaplains hear frequently.
Being locked up and becoming part of a prison regime can be a very dehumanising experience. A woman/man who is listened to and supported can come to a new self-awareness, begin to take responsibility for their actions and get a fresh sense of hope and so on release have the ability to go out and join their family and the community and have a determination to give something back.
As chaplain, I go around the prison and meet the women/men where they are. I visit the various work places, have a brief chat or a cheery hello with them as they do their daily work. I also meet with them at more sensitive times when they are for example in the Segregation Unit. As chaplains we are called on in times of crisis such as at the time of a family illness and bereavement.
I run a weekly Relaxation Class, Rosary Group and an opportunity for the women/men to attend a Shared Prayer Session. For those who wish to know more about the Catholic Faith I do a short course on Catholicism. The weekly Mass provides the opportunity to spend time together, deepen our relationship with the Lord and have a chat over a coffee and biscuit. Many of the women and men find great comfort in coming to Church. We do have a number of Volunteers coming in to work with the prisoners, these activities include, Bible study, knitting/sewing, helping with music for Mass and often lending a listening ear.
As I walk to the gate at the end of a busy day very often I think,
‘There but for the grace of God go I'.