Shanti Sadan, Dharwad
Sr. Irene D’Silva, assistant coordinator for the prison ministry of Belgaum, along with the Bethany sisters and their high school students, on 22nd December organized the Christmas celebration in the prison of Dharwad. Remembering the words of Jesus «When I was in prison, you visited me…» some of us, along with the provincial superior, have participated in the celebration. The large crib, prepared at the entrance by a catholic prisoner, was admired by all the authorities as well as the inmates, about 400 men and 40 women. Also the district magistrate
was present; he was in prison with a few lawyers for a working appointment. One of the touching moments was when one of the prisoners, a Hindu boy, expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the services of the pastoral ministry undertaken by the church and especially thanked Sr. Irene D’Silva who is a ‘great mother’ for the prisoners, because she teaches them various skills, even computer skills, and other religious institutions for the cordial and concrete help they give them even in cash.
The prison superintendent, Dr. Anita R., at the end expressed her sincere thanks for the humanitarian services rendered by the sisters. She underlined that when the convictes are brought in prison, usually they lose hope and get into depression, but the sisters, unlike the outside counsellors, manage to give them hope and courage with their simple way of approaching them and their words. Refering herself to the message of Fr Prashanth D’Souza S.J., the rector of Vidya Niketan, she affirmed that the Christians base their life on «love and compassion»; at the end she has thanked us again warmly and enthusiastically and she invited us to organize more meetings and services for the benefit of the prisoners.
We returned back home with a ‘heavy’ heart, broken by the sight of so many persons behind bars, but also inspired to do something more to alleviate the pain of these our brothers and sisters who suffer.