Formation Meeting of Alcala de Henares Diocesan Penitentiary Pastoral Care

[Province of Madrid – Saint Luise] Madrid I, II and VII Pastoral Care teams for the Penitentiary Centres met on June 15thto continue our formation, sharing, evaluating, and projecting. We cannot stay with the “already learned”, our service has to be of a quality and human content; we have already dealt with formation but the “Spiritual Accompaniment” based on the Gospel (Lk 24, 32-25) needs to be taken again. The light obtained by the disciples of Emmaus, the warmth, did not our hearts burn? and orientation,” getting up at once they went back to Jerusalem.”

Many were the questions were raised in each one of us after reflection. Enrique Climent, a Jesuit Priest, said that listening is the root where everything else comes; this human encounter must take place. The spiritual is not something on top of a conversation, it is not an addition. If there is a human encounter, there is a spiritual encounter.

To accompany brings us the idea of a path, walking with someone who needs me, with one who suffers; to contemplate a walking Jesus who heals and alleviates suffering in so many persons He met along the way. We must know how to situate ourselves,  adapting ourselves to the rhythm of each person, without forcing situations, because the rhythm has not to be marked, not by me, but by the person who is accompanied. We have to be encouraging in moments of discouragement because the road is hard. Human processes are slow and much more when they are difficult processes, when they have to overcome personal, family and social conflicts; having very long stories with deep wounds.

We are called to persevere alongside the person we accompany as long as our presence helps. Our commitment must assume as our own, the aspirations of justice for those who suffer injustice; not falling into the sin of indifference, the global sin of our global society.

The morning went by very quickly. Followed by a break, each prison team met to evaluate the year’s work, sharing everything developed in each activity, workshop, course, and celebration.

We also took the opportunity to think about the next two years, since Local Social Councils have already demanded the renewal of programs. We have to define what we can maintain, or what needs to be changed; in which modules we must be present. Without a doubt, we all agree on the same option: those who do not have the possibility to participate in other activities, the so-called conflictive modules. In short,  with the words of Pope Francis:

“The poor are also privileged teachers of our knowledge of God: their fragility and simplicity expose our selfishness, our false certainties, our pretensions of self-sufficiency and guide us to the experience of the closeness and tenderness of God, to receive in our life his love, the mercy of the Father who, with discretion and patient trust, takes care of us, of all of us” (Pope Francis – Astalli Centre of Rome).

It is always a great experience to meet, to maintain the promise of bringing hope, dreams, and desires in a service that will enrich and transform.

Sr M.ª de Cortes Astasio Lara, D.C
 National Coordinator for Social Affairs 

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