A prison charity is calling on Catholics to put their faith into action during a week devoted to supporting prisoners.
October 13 marks Prisoners’ Sunday, whilst Prisons Week takes place from 13-19 October 2019.
These events aim to encourage prayer and awareness of the needs of prisoners and their families, victims of offenders and prison staff.
Andy Keen-Downs, CEO of Catholic prison agency PACT (Prison Advice and Care Trust), is encouraging Catholics to get involved.
“People are invited to give, and to pray,” he said.
“Because PACT now have services in nearly 70 prisons across England and Wales, we also invite people with a little time on their hands to think about how they might put their faith into action.”
Prisons Week and Prisoners’ Sunday come this year at a particularly difficult time for prisons.
Channel 4 documentary Crime And Punishment has revealed alarmingly low numbers of prison officers, availability of drugs, high levels of self-harm and unfit buildings at HMP Winchester.
Meanwhile, living conditions at HMP Hewell in Worcestershire were recently described by inspectors as “squalid, demeaning and depressing.”
Mr Keen-Downs explained some of the ways in which volunteers support prisoners.
“Our volunteers do everything, from working with children in play schemes, serving tea and snacks in prison visit hall cafés, to mentoring men and women on their release from prison,” he said.
Prisoners’ Sunday is a national day of prayer and action for people affected by imprisonment within the Catholic community. The Prisons Week theme for 2019 is: “What does freedom mean to you and are you free?”
Prisoners’ Sunday and Prisons Week were both introduced in England and Wales by Bishop Victor Guazzelli in 1975.
Bishop Guazzelli, who was dubbed ‘the Bishop of Hopeless Causes’, was highly active in peace organisation Pax Christi. He also stood up for prisoners and their families.
For more information, email PACT: [email protected]
Picture: Father Tom McNally prays with death-row inmate Eric Wrinkles at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City in 2008. (CNS photo/Tim Hunt, Northwest Indiana Catholic)