[Spain: Madrid – Santa Luisa Province] Dear friends, I would like to tell you about the encounter we had called, “Abrazados en la Misericordia” (Embrace in Mercy) for the Chaplains and assistant chaplains of Penitentiary Centres of Spain the 14, 15 and 16 of June. It was a very animated and enriching meeting.
Monday, after prayer, Bishop José Ángel Sainz Meneses (responsible for Prison Ministry) welcomed and reminded us that “we are called and sent by the Lord on behalf of the Church.” We must not forget that it is a year of grace to energize and create awareness in our Dioceses.
Afterward, Fr Pedro Fernandez Alejo, Trinitarian, new head of the National Secretariat of chaplains in Seville, opened the Encounter with a theological and practical reflection, “Begin with Mercy,” Tuesday Antonio Ávila Blanco, director of the Superior Institute of Pastoral Ministry-UPSA Madrid, offered us in two sessions a report on the “Pastoral Accompaniment in Vulnerability”. He started from a Psychological foundation of different schools (Psychoanalysis, logo therapy, behaviourism, currents of spirituality and systemic. He insisted on the theological foundation of accompaniment based on the parables of the “Good Shepherd”, “The Good Samaritan” and “The Good Father”. Later he spoke about the development of the influence of different therapeutic currents in pastoral accompaniment, from empathic listening: “there are Christians who look for one ear and they don’t find it” (Bonhoeffer) to the analysis of blame, mistake, pardon and self-pardon. He said that the “rights and duties” of the person we accompany supposes a contract and relationship finishing in the accompaniment process that has its beginning with a “first encounter” and its end. A dialogue was opened that surfaced diverse questions like the need of “believing lies” to survive.
Tuesday afternoon in groups of 12, we revised:
- The encounters made from the National Secretariat.
- The reality of the Volunteers in our Diocesan Pastoral Ministry.
- The relationship between Chaplains and the Diocesan Delegation.
- The relationship between prisons and Parishes.
On Wednesday morning we shared the analysis done and we reached some conclusions such as unifying delegates and Chaplaincies encounters; volunteer formation within the social area. The pastoral (catechetical) level will remain “the juridical” because it is so specific.
We also had the presence of Raquel Benito (Jurist) who made a brief journey with us through the reformation of the Penal code, pointing out some hard expectations emphasized by the media.
Lastly, Fr Florencio Roselló Avellanas (Mercedario) Director of Prison Ministry, spoke to us about the Next National Prison Ministry Congress that takes place every five years. This year it will be at El Escorial (House of spirituality San José) from 16 to 18 September. Before concluding we signed a petition to the European Government asking them not to dehumanize the situation of the refugees from Syria conflict, who are so wrongly “captives”.
May the Passion and Crucifixion lead us to share His victory with those who suffer more the crosses of this life.
Sister Mª of Cortes Astasio Lara
Daughter of Charity