Prison Ministry India is a National Organisation working for the release, reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners and welfare of the victims and families
with 850 branches and 33 rehabilitation centres for the children of prisoners, released women and men from prison. Prison Ministry India started on 8th December 1981 by Br. Varghese Karippery and Francis Kodiyan students of philosophy. It is now under the Patronage of Bishop Alwyn D’Silva and Fr. Sebastian Vadakempadan as National Coordinator & Secretary to C.B.C.I for Prison Ministry India.
There are several Prison Ministry Units working across Mumbai, we at St. Andrew’s are a part of the Children’s Correctional Home at Dongri Unit that looks after juvenile crimes and runaway boys and girls found wandering the streets of Mumbai. The Dongri facility then looks to reunite these runaway children with their families, most of them coming from as far as UP and Bihar. When locating their families is not possible or families are not willing to accept these children, they are then taken to Rehabilitation homes that take care of them.
“But for the grace of God, anyone of us could have been in their place, given a different set of circumstances and life decisions”. We all have a choice to be compassionate and merciful, ambassadors of peace, love and hope. Our lives are permeated with pain and suffering. Some people experience these adverse human situations more than others. Yet, we overcome hardship with Hope. As PMI volunteers our role is to bring Jesus to these children and give them a life of Hope. Once we realise our missions, we cannot stop from extending our helping hands to the neglected of society ‘Prisoners’. And how do we work this miracle of taking Christ to the rejected? The Prison Ministry offers this Hope. Our beloved Pope Francis has emphasized ‘The need to seek out the poor, marginalized, and forgotten, to try always to see the face of Christ in others’. There is no better opportunity for this than meeting face to face with inmates. Prison Ministry takes Jesus behind bars to a captive crowd.
We have several volunteers going each day of the week to spend time with the children. Each session begins with a time of Prayer and Thanksgiving. We recite the Our Father (in Hindi) teach them action hymns and narrate stories from the Bible to inculcate values of forgiveness, helping one another and trust in God.
We then break the kids into small activity groups – colouring, art and craft, teaching them English, beauty and mehendi classes for the girls. We recently had a group of volunteers from Spain who taught football to the children, bringing much joy and cheer to their everyday lives. We also undertake eye test camps for the children and provide them with spectacles. We celebrate Christmas, Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Children’s Day with the inmates and distribute cakes and snacks.
The Patron Saint of Prisoners is Saint Maximilian Kolbe who was a Polish Conventual Franciscan Friar who was sent to Auschwitz for hiding Jews during the Second World War. When the Nazi guards selected 10 people to be starved to death in punishment, Kolbe volunteered to die in place of a stranger. He was later canonised in 1982 and his feast is celebrated on 14th August.
You could support Prison Ministry India in several ways. To be a volunteer your time commitment is of key importance. Alternatively, you could donate cash /clothes for children/ commuters in working condition. Those interested please contact the Parish Office to get in touch with the Prison Ministry volunteers of St. Andrew’s Parish.