“The theme of the meeting was Community participation in the prison”
The three-day Meet began on November 15th at the pastoral centre of Arch Bishop’s house in Nagpur. Over 100 PMI representatives from across various locations participated. After the welcome address by Sr. Grace the unit convener of Nagpur, we had the Holy mass by Fr. Karippery the founder father of PMI concelebrated by Bp Peter Remigius and all priests attending the program.
At 7.pm Fr.Sebastian Vadakumpadan the National Coordinator set the context for the program. Bp Peter Remigius addressed the group in a very interactive and innovative manner. After dinner the delegates reassembled for an ice-breaking session to help them to get to know the others. Day one concluded at 8.45pm with a prayer.
16th Nov. the Second day of the meeting began at 6.30 am with the morning prayer by Kerala unit followed by Holy Mass celebrated by Arch-bishop Abraham Viruthakulangara and concelebrated by Bp Remigius and all the priests. After the breakfast Rev. Fr. Varghese Karippery delivered an inspiring talk with lot of enthusiasm and conviction. He expressed his concern for the Prison ministry, its growth, strength and expectations and value based continuity. He gave the methodologies on how to work for the prison ministry effectively.
At 9.30 am the inaugural function started. The dignitaries of the day were Arch bishop Abraham, Bp Peter Remigius and the special invitee Chief Guest Shri Vipin Bihari Director general prison, Eastern Region Nagpur, our founder father Varghese Karippery, Fr. Josekutty, Fr.Sebastian Vadakumpadan, Fr.Mathew MI, Sr.Maria Rose, Advocate Prashant Santhiyanathan, Public Prosecutor-Nagpur, Fr. Jerome Vicar General, Fr.Dominic Mendonza. The cultural programs such as dance and songs added joy and color to the function. Fr. Sebastian the National Co-ordinator welcomed the dignitaries. He spoke about improving Public Co-operation through the community participation in prison and circulated the printed copies to everyone. Sr. Ancy, the National Secretary presented the annual report for2010-11 and it was passed by the chairman Bp. Peter Remigius. The traditional lamp lighting was done by the special dignitaries. Bp. Peter Remigius, in his speech emphasized upon what must be our attitudes when we visit the prison. Quoting the Gospel passage Jn: 8-7 he said that “We are here to bring reconciliation and not revenge”.
At 11.45 am Sr. Leena Kattukaran and Br. Deacon Benny were honoured with a shawl and memento as a token of appreciation for their sincere efforts in the Ministry and best wishes from PMI for their future endeavors. The Calendar for the year 2012-13 and Vimochana diary, Prison Voice magazine for Nov. etc were released. At 11.50 am Fr. Mathew the assistant National Coordinator gave the vote of thanks and felicitated all the dignitaries with mementos. Mr.Vipin Bihari the Chief Guest for the day, spoke about the Cooperation of the society in prison. He said, “Crime cannot be erased, it can be contained or controlled”. Prof. Devasya, a man with faith and trust in God spoke, and his speech was appreciated by all and the participants could benefit from it. Sr. Philo’s session on Plea Bargaining was informative. She explained the procedures of the plea bargaining. A Panel Discussion had been held by Mr. Saksena and team from CHRI (Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative). The discussion points were: the under trial prisoners and the challenges, Jail Adalath, and Video conferencing. The Q & A session was very interactive.
From 5.45 pm onwards the regional coordinators’ presented their reports. After that Fr.Sebastian spoke about restorative justice. The live example of Sr. Rani Maria and an African sister were really touching as it was presented with power point. From 8.15 pm onwards the state coordinators presented their reports. By 9.15 pm we concluded the day’s programme with a prayer.
The Third Day 17th began with the Morning Prayer. The Holy mass was celebrated by Bp. Remigius concelebrated by all other priests. We specially remembered all the departed members of PMI and very particularly Fr. Karipery’s mother. The Tamil Nadu state conducted the prayer and mass with a small skit titled dispelling the darkness.
At 8.50 we started the session by Dr. Mrinald a psychologist on anti-social, psycho-pathic and criminal personalities. After this, the participants grouped region wise to discuss and elect new coordinators and leaders. Fr. Sebastian gave the guide lines and discussed the future plan. He also spoke about the full timers course, and the urgent need to have a National Directory for PMI. Bp Peter Remigius told the regional coordinators to ensure that more Volunteers are sent for the full timers training programme. Bp also urged the gathering to have more contact with parishioners and find benefactors and subscribers for the Prison Voice. Fr. Mathew summarised the report of the group discussion of all the regions.
The Annual General Body Meeting began at 11.45 a.m. Our chair man Bp. Peter Remigius invited the National team and founder fathers to the stage. Sr. Ancy the National Secretary read out the report of the previous General Body meeting. Bp. Peter Remigius asked the consent of the group and it was approved by all. Then Bp told that the term for the executive members are 3 years. Bishop asked the participants what is the expectation from the National Office. He raised concerns on how the National office would function. He asked to send one third of the collection from every regional office to the National Office. Then Bp asked the newly elected members to introduce themselves. It was followed by a Photo Session.
Suggestions and concerns of PMI
The following points were clarified by Fr.Sebastian Vadakumpadan, the National Coordinator PMI such as, Internationals in Foreign Prisons. Full timers course. Few suggestions also had come up during the discussion namely; there should be a friendly club for the released prisoners. We should have a charity based approach when we visit the prison. We need to have more volunteers from the lay people. The provincials must be ready to send more sisters for the prison ministry. Persons are expecting salary and conveniences when they are asked to do prison ministry. At 1 pm the commissioner of Police Mr. Ankush reportedly graced our gathering with his flamboyant speech and everybody admired him for his hard work.
Vote of thanks:
Fr. Mathew the Assistant National Coordinator thanked everyone especially the Nagpur volunteers. He extended thanks on behalf of PMI to all those who gave us accommodations, electricity, sound system, and those who contributed financially. The Nagpur team was called on the stage and thanked them giving special gifts. At 2.30 pm we sang the National Anthem and Prison Ministry anthem. Then Bp. Peter Remigius, the Chairman waved his way back. We could distribute the name and address along with cell numbers and e-mail ID of all participants before we left the place. At 3.45 pm was the departure.