This weekend we mark Prison Sunday (7 November), an opportunity to acknowledge the important work of prison ministry. ‘Whether the setting is a hospital or a custodial facility, the offer to reconnect with a sense of purpose and meaning is at the heart of the pastoral relationship between the chaplain and the person,’ says Paul Zammit, Senior Manager of Pastoral Care Services at CatholicCare Victoria. Providing this care during the pandemic has been a challenge. Prison chaplain of 27 years Sr Mary O’Shannassy SGS says that while she and her team have maintained connections with those imprisoned through video conferencing, telephone calls and written messages, they feel the pain of residents who have been deprived of family visits, support and education services, and religious services.
‘When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you get to know a lot of people,’ Sr Mary says. ‘It really is a privilege to be able to journey with these people, and to encourage them to grow and to eventually move on.’