‘I was in prison and you visited me’. (Lk 4:18-19)
As chaplains we are called to be people of faith and to exercise a prophetic role in our stance for justice. We are called to be a voice for those deprived of their freedom. We are called to promote the principles and practices of Restorative Justice, and be a healing link with the wider community.
Chaplains are often a vital link between prisoner and family. When a person is sentenced in court he/she is taken away and brought to prison. Their family often have to cope with the Media, neighbours, children face ridicule from their classmates. Chaplains offer support at times of illness and bereavement sometimes accompanying prisoners to funerals. Also visiting them or members of their family when in hospital. Supporting staff particularly during times of personal difficulties is also important.
Prisons may be seen and experienced by most as the darkest of places but in sharing in the life of prisoners. I believe that it is in these dark places God is, and that prison can be a way to holiness and healing for all, for people inside and for those who are privileged to work with them.
I have come to recognize the unique value of each person. Like the rest of us, they crave peace and forgiveness and long to be reunited with their loved ones.