By THA SC
Bangkok, Thailand, 16 November 2020 -- It has been already ten years since the parish rector and members of the parish council of Mary Help of Christians Church in Bangkok have been ministering to people behind bars. This mission is part of the pastoral plan of the Church and is a 'work of mercy' which is being done continuously every month.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand since February 2020, the working team could not hold their usual visits. The prison authorities have started to allow this pastoral work again at the beginning of October when the virus infection in Thailand eased, and there has been no domestic infections for 120 days. Usually Fr. Aaron Alcoseba, the parish priest, visits the three prison centres every month together with some faithful, i.e., 1.Thanyaburi District Prison 2. Min Buri Prison 3. Pathum Thani Detention Centre. The main purpose of the monthly visits has been to minister to Catholic prisoners by means of formation activities, catechetics, sacrament of reconciliation, holy Mass, and other liturgical services.
It has been observed that prisoners of other religions - Buddhists and Islam - chose freely to join in the activities because they were impressed by the atmosphere of the formation. Moreover, those who were present during the activities were given a 'certificate of presence' which would entitle them to a reduction of their prison sentence. Aside from this, there were also some who received catechetical instruction and, eventually, the sacrament of baptism.
The pastoral work for those in prison is one other work that the sons of Don Bosco in Thailand show interest in. Don Bosco has been the example for us in visiting the youth imprisoned and those on the peripheries of society. This pastoral work gives hope to those behind bars to start a new phase of their lives because nothing can be done about what happened in the past, but the future can start today.