Focus 2020

Prison Ministry - THA01-12-2020

Resumption of prison ministry in Bangkok prisons

(Bangkok, Thailand) For the past ten years the parish priest of the Salesian parish "Mary Help of Christians" in Bangkok and the members of the parish council have been animating pastoral activities with people in prisons, especially young prisoners. This mission is part of the pastoral plan of the local Church and is a work of mercy that is carried out on a fixed basis, every month. This year, for the first time, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, visits to prisoners have suffered a pause; but since the beginning of October the prison authorities have begun to allow visits again and pastoral work in prisons has started again.

The spread of the virus in Thailand, in fact, has lessened and this has allowed the Salesians to restart their activities. Usually, Fr Aaron Alcoseba, the parish priest, visits the three main detention centers every month: Thanyaburi, Min Buri and Pathum Thani.

The main purpose of the visits is to assist Catholic prisoners through formation and catechesis activities, and to offer the opportunity to approach the sacrament of Reconciliation, to participate in Mass or other liturgical services.

In recent weeks, prisoners who profess other religions - especially Buddhists and Muslims - have also decided to join the activities. They said they felt especially impressed by the way the formation is carried out.

All those who participate in the various initiatives receive a certificate of attendance, which entitles them to a reduction in the prison sentence. Also, there are also prisoners who, after having participated in the catechesis process, decide independently to receive Baptism.

Prison pastoral care is a ministry the spiritual Sons of Don Bosco in Thailand show great interest in. "Don Bosco was an example for us in visiting young people in prison and who are on the margins of society," they explain.

These pastoral activities, in fact, instill hope in those behind bars and offer them incentives to start a new phase in their lives. The Salesians argue, in fact, that if it is true that nothing can be done to remove what happened in the past, it is also true that the future is still to be written and that one can work for the prospect of a better tomorrow.