Justice Services helps prisoners redeem themselves and make positive contribution to society
By Laureen McMahon
The B.C. Catholic
VANCOUVER--Prisons need volunteers, and prison ministry is a response to what Jesus said the Father will say to His sheep: "I was in prison and you visited Me."
The annual support and development day of Catholic Charities Prison Ministry will offer volunteers already engaged in prison ministry, as well as those considering becoming involved, sound guidance on how to take the Gospel message into prisons in a spirit of brotherhood, tolerance, and hope.
The free workshop will be held at St. Andrew Kim Parish, 10222 161 St., Surrey, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 15.
Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, will join workshop participants for lunch. Lunch and refreshments will be provided, and families and friends are welcome to attend.
Speakers will include Father Ken Forster, OMI, on "The Call to Prison Discipleship," and Tamara Holdal, a Social Worker from Pacific Regional Treatment Centre, on "Behind Bars: Bringing Your Best Self to Prison Ministry."
Their talks are for both prison chaplains and volunteers.
Catholic chaplains, volunteers, and prisoners from federal prisons will speak on "Sharing the Journey of Discipleship."
Blair Perra, coordinator of volunteers for Catholic Charities Justice Services (CCJS), said the event has been planned to be "fun and highly interactive while offering 10 tools that volunteers can use to bring their best to prison ministry."
Pope John Paul II's 2000 Message for the Jubilee in Prisons called on Catholics to offer "those who commit crimes a way of redeeming themselves and making a positive return to society." This can be read at www.rcav.org/osj/Prison_Ministry. The website also offers ways to donate to and support the work of CCJS.
Since 1986, when the late Archbishop James Carney established Catholic Charities Justice Services, the Church in Vancouver has emphasized helping the incarcerated, CCJS coordinator Maureen Donegan said. Training is essential, she added, for those interested in becoming involved in such a special and important ministry.
Workshop seats can be reserved through BPerra@rcav.org, 778-240-4886, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 604-791-1864.