“Giving quality of presence and intervention in the Penitentiary Centres”

[Province of Madrid Saint Louise – Spain] Here is a short bit of information, making a brief tour, about the last formation meetings of the Penitentiary Pastoral team with the Spanish Episcopal Conference; and Secretariat of Penitentiary Pastoral Ministry of Alcala de Henares (Madrid).

Although the year is already well underway, it is worth remembering the volunteer training days for the National Penitentiary Pastoral Ministry. On October 27-29 over 80 volunteers met in Madrid from all over Spain to reflect on the theme  EVANGELIZE IN MERCY. In this ministry we anchor our objectives being one of mercy with the prisoners and their families. We know all the suffering and marginalization that they endure, not only of their acquaintances, but even from the family itself. The various interventions responded to how we should approach the prisoners; the great importance and quality of presence. The first presentation by Pedro Fernández Alejo (Trinitaire), centred on how to “Evangelize in Mercy according to Pope Francis“. M.ª Antonia Liviano spoke from her experience of “Volunteering today.” She showed us the trajectory of the Volunteers over the years. D. Carlos Piñeyroa Sierra spoke about the passion of being a volunteer. My own intervention in these days was about “The volunteer inside the prison” clarifying the opportunities, difficulties and inconveniences in the penitentiary environment.

These days have been offered as an enhancement of experiences, concerns, new initiatives, through group meetings and communications, all with the same purpose and desire: that imprisoned people receive the strength of the Gospel of Jesus which helps them in their process of reintegration into the future in freedom.

All volunteers were summoned as every year to a training day, with a suggested theme “The Art of Accompanying /Us”. Accompanying is a vital relationship between people who walk together, on a level of mutual support, it is to open your eyes, listen, to respond to the needs of people, respecting their rights. Accompanying is not to supervise or to manage, it is to know how to do, to feel, and to be.

The topic fulfilled the objectives of ongoing training, to continue adding efforts, trust and co-responsibility in our service with our brothers and sisters.

On February 12, María Yela – delegate Pastoral Penitentiary of the Diocese of Madrid – summoned us to share and continue to consider our work in a welcoming, close and fraternal atmosphere. We analysed different texts of the book “If Life Gives Us Lemons, Let’s Make Lemonade” by López and Costa. In its exquisite content, we discover the risk factors, the uncertainties, the learned helplessness, the emotional impacts. In short, we must always have a look that goes beyond, because the person cannot be reduced to just A BEHAVIOR. We ended by sharing at tables the desires, the dreams, the setbacks, the efforts to make this ministry more visible and credible each day within and outside of the Penitentiary Centres.

Sister M.ª de Cortes – Daughter of Charity

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