Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 32 • AUG 11 - 17, 2018

01 Cover

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:55 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:55 PM ]

03 Index

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:54 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:54 PM ]

04 Official

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:51 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:51 PM ]

05 Engagements

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:46 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:46 PM ]

07 Editorial - You are Not Alone

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:33 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:36 PM ]

August 12, 2018 is celebrated as Prison Ministry Sunday to commemorate the feast of the Patron saint, Maximilian Kolbe. This year, the theme is 'You are not alone'. As human beings, we experience a variety of feelings. However, one feeling we would rather not like to experience is the feeling of being alone. Certainly, there are many ways in which we may feel lonely, but loneliness is felt most in prisons. On Prison Ministry Sunday, the Church is proclaiming to all those behind bars that "you are not alone". Through the celebration of Prison Ministry Sunday, the Church wants to declare to each one of our brothers and sisters inside 1,401 prisons in India that they are not alone.

The volunteers of Prison Ministry India (PMI) strive to reach out to our brothers and sisters in prison and bring them inner freedom i.e freedom from fear, guilt and shame that grip their lives. We help to give them a sense of dignity while they are still behind bars.

PMI is an organisation recognized by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) to reach out to our brothers and sisters who are behind bars. The prison system can be a painful and damaging process for the inmates and their helpless families. The prisoners suffer not just physically, but also psychologically, emotionally and spiritually, and are in urgent need of care and support.

PMI Mumbai works in five prisons - Adharwadi (Kalyan), Arthur Road, Byculla, Taloja and Thane, and in two Remand/Observation Homes for children at Dongri (Umerkhadi) and Mankhurd.

The Vision of PMI is the 'Three R Theory':

RELEASE – them from Prisons and also from the bondage of crime and sin, into understanding and forgiveness.

RENEWAL – Empowering them to a commitment to a new chance at life.

REHABILITATION – reintegrate them back into their homes and society with a fresh vigour to move on.

We are happy to present briefly the various activities conducted through Prison Ministry Mumbai under the aegis of the Centre for Peace Trust.

Spiritual Activities:

The Eucharist was celebrated on Christmas, Easter, Ash Wednesday at Adharwadi, Arthur Road, Taloja and Thane prisons. The Sacrament of Confession was held before Mass, and praise and worship was conducted in Hindi and Marathi. After the Eucharist, cake was distributed to 300 inmates at Christmas and Easter.

A solemn Mass of the Lord's Supper was held on Maundy Thursday, including the washing of the feet of the prisoners. Bishop Barthol Barretto washed the feet of 15 prisoners. Most of the prisoners were overwhelmed with this gesture of Bishop Barthol washing and kissing their feet; this symbolic action had a profound impact on the prisoners. On Easter Sunday, praise and worship was organised for the Christians; it was well attended by people of other faiths too. Bishop Barthol Barretto also participated in the praise and worship.

Medical Camps: Since January 2018, Skin camps, Eye, Gynaecology, Diabetes and Dental camps were held at Thane and Arthur Road jails. Dental camps are held on a regular basis at Arthur Road, Taloja and Thane jails.

Release of prisoners: Pope Francis' concluding message for the Year of Mercy - that we need to continue acts of mercy - was seriously taken up by Prison Ministry Mumbai in securing the release of poor and petty crime offenders. The Prison Ministry, in collaboration with the Catholic Lawyers Guild Mumbai (CLGM), has released more than 50 prisoners; mostly those who are very poor and cannot afford to pay the bail amount.

From time to time, the volunteers talk to the inmates and counsel them to deal with their situation. Regular counselling is provided to women inmates at Byculla prison.

Fr Joseph Gonsalves is the Director of Prison Ministry, Mumbai.

08 Mary’s Assumption and India’s Independence - Fr. William Fernandes

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:30 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:30 PM ]

We in India celebrate two notable events on August 15, 2018 - the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven and the 71st anniversary of India's independence. Both events speak of the same fact - Liberation from Bondage.

The Assumption commemorates Mary's total liberation from the bondage of sin and selfishness. Independence Day commemorates India's liberation from the bondage of foreign domination. As we celebrate Independence with much gaiety and enthusiasm, this celebration will bring along certain thoughts and questions: Are we really a freed people? What are we freed from and for what? For millions of people, what does political Independence mean, when for a number of our people there is nothing to eat? Let us go back and see what was the economic progress of the country since August 15, 1947.

Statistics have shown that, in the past, we produced surplus food grains in the country. The industrial growth of our nation has been the cause of envy for many developing countries. And yet, we see pockets of poverty and starvation in many corners of the different states of India. A number of our brothers and sisters live below the poverty line – that is, without the bare minimum necessary for a decent human existence. Social inequalities and discrimination on the basis of caste, language and religion still prevail.

India seems to be heading towards fragmentation. Instead of being conscious that we are a free people, and that we are one, we are breaking up into linguistic groups. People in one State are bound by narrow parochial (vested) interests, and reject or even persecute those from other States of Mother India.

In recent times, our freedom has been curbed in what we eat and how we dress. Are we Free?


09 One India or three? A fragile state - Eddy D'Sa

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:29 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:29 PM ]

If I shift myself a little away from the noise, anarchy, contradictions and lost opportunities of India's society and politics, and dispassionately observe all that is around me, I see not merely crossroads, but an interlinked distorted web of them, with directionless forces moving in all directions, without an inkling of how to propel the nation forward along the right path. There are roundabouts along which we have been aimlessly circling, though what we should really be doing, very consciously and carefully, is breaking the circle at the right place and advancing forward. I see flyovers where the privileged, fortunate, industrious and crooked have been able to ascend to riches or power or fame, often at the cost of the nation and the multitudes trampled on the ground. And then there are tunnels, where the poor, hungry and ignorant remain trapped, even after more than 70 years of independence, without ever seeing the light at the end.

Indeed, there are not two, but three Indias. The first of the growing rich and famous, whose wealth and ostentation match, if not exceed, that of the wealthiest of the planet. They make their presence felt in lists of the richest people in the world. Like their counterparts elsewhere, they control governments and their institutions through their wealth. They hold enormous leveraging power not only to protect, but to expand their financial and economic interests, often at the cost of national interest and common good.

The second India consists of the new middle class, which has been growing unobtrusively over the last few decades. This India is well educated, works hard, earns well, boasts of gender equality and has contributed handsomely to the economic growth of our country. To it belong the malls and bars and hotels, the brand names and designer clothes. The malls, department stores, hotels, restaurants, beauty parlours and gyms that cater to them also require manpower from the stage of construction to maintenance — migration from all parts of rural and northeast India is more than evident. I am told that the size of middle class India has now reached 160 million individuals, nearing 20% of the population in 2015, and increasing to 37.2% by 2025-26. It is indeed paradoxical that the Indian state appears to be failing in direct proportion to the economic growth it is claiming to have achieved and the burgeoning of the middle class. The Indian middle class wants things which every citizen of a modern country wants - which our failed state is incapable of delivering anymore - such as proper governance, proper civic amenities, law and order, public safety, freedom from harassment and corruption from politicians, bureaucrats and touts. Cash and booze, white goods and caste reservations - the only electoral language that present day politicians know - mean nothing to them. It never had the numbers, couldn't influence electoral outcomes, and therefore, had no clout. This fast expanding new political force now desperately requires its own political outfit to protect its interests. And this is precisely what the existing political parties are trying to thwart, as they know the risk that lies in it for them. But it is inevitable that their political formation will come. As Victor Hugo has said, "All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come."


11 Experiences with Juvenile Home children at Dongri - Sr. Jean Athikalam

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:27 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:28 PM ]

"You are going to teach where? in the prison! Why would you want to teach those kids who are DANGEROUS?"

These were some of the reactions from my friends and family members when I told them that I was going to teach at Dongri Children's Home. I explained to them that I wished to work with children at risk. I told my friends that these children are human beings with feelings and emotions; if we don't work with them, how will they be re-integrated into the mainstream of society?

This is my fifth year in Prison Ministry at Dongri Children's Home. The first three years, I worked in the Girls' section of the Juvenile Home. In the last two years, I have been working in the Boys' section. The boys comprise of two groups - those who have committed crime and children with delinquency. In the Home, these students have academic classes in the morning, and a work study programme in the afternoon where they practise their vocational skills.

Interacting with these children, I realised that these children typically came from homes, neighbourhoods and schools where they had been labelled "the bad boy". Some of the children rarely experienced any form of kindness at home, while a majority had been neglected or abused at home. School had not encouraged these students nor treated them kindly and respectfully. These children lived up to the low expectations, and eventually entered into the world of crime.

The sad thing I learned was how little most of them understood about how to live in society and become productive persons. These children lacked the essential and formative knowledge - not to steal, not to use drugs, to go to school every day, to be kind and helpful to others; instead, they picked up from their environment a street mentality - rules that constituted their own moral code - which was deviant from the society in which they lived. Therefore, these children need rehabilitation which is obviously a long arduous process.


12 Personal Experiences of PMI volunteers

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:26 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:26 PM ]

GRETA (Mankhurd Observation Home): Balkalyan Nagri shelter home is situated in Mankhurd near St Anthony's Church. This Home houses both boys and girls below 18 years. Above 18 years children/students can join other homes run by NGOs or have to return home, if they have parents and relatives. Most often, these children become 'orphans', as there is no one who is willing to take them back. They are not prisoners but considering their home condition, the social workers counsel them; they are adopted by the court and put in these shelters. During vacations, they can go home and be with their loved ones, but quite often, there are some who don't have any one, as they are orphans or rejected by the family. This is the time where children need more attention and guidance to grow in their life. But these little ones coming from broken homes look for love and care. The food and material necessities can be provided by any of us, but love, care and support is a big question mark. This is what we do – we reach out to them with love. On Prison Ministry Sunday, let us pray for these little ones. As the Bible says: "Whatever you do to these little ones, you do it to me."

BRINELLE (Dongri Observation Home)

We have several volunteers going each day of the week to spend time with the children. Each session begins with a time of prayer and thanksgiving. We teach them action songs and narrate stories to inculcate values of forgiveness, helping one another and trust in God.

We then break the kids into small activity groups – colouring, art and craft, teaching them English; beauty and mehendi classes for the girls. We recently had a group of volunteers from Spain who taught football to the children, bringing much joy and cheer to their everyday lives.

VEERA (Byculla Prison):

We have been chosen and handpicked by God, so it's our commitment to serve and do our best for the last, lost and the least. We have a lot of skill-based activities for the inmates, so that they can later on use some of the skills to get employment. Over years of being with them, I can conclude that it is ONLY the Word of God that we use in our various activities that has given us satisfaction and joy. Through our regular interaction with the inmates, we befriend them and guide them to give up their anger, bitterness and hate, and experience freedom by forgiveness. We feel happy when a few do keep in touch with us after they have been released from prison.


14 India says “YES” to Our Lady - Fr. Rui Comelo

posted Aug 8, 2018, 11:24 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 8, 2018, 11:24 PM ]

“My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge, and the way that will lead you to God.”

Nations across the globe are uniting, in prayers of reparation and petition as a new "Holy League" reminiscent of the 1571 battle of Lepanto led by Pope Pius V and his command to pray the Rosary. We unite to stand with The Woman, clothed with the Sun. (Rev 12:1)

Countries from around the world have joined forces to create a new "Holy League of Nations" and declare a united front in the worldwide spiritual battle defending the dignity of the Human Person, Life, Marriage, Family and Religious Liberty. India, Poland, UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand are all part of the 'Holy League of Nations'. More countries are joining in.

"This 'Declaration of War 'is' not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against rulers of the world of darkness, against spirits of wickedness in high places." (Eph 6:12)

The sparks arising from the 'Rosary at the Borders' in Poland in October 2017, where thousands gathered at around 4000 locations to implore protection for their homeland and the world have burst forth into a blazing fire which is spreading across the world.

India has joined in with the 'Rosary Across India', in coordination with the Holy League of Nations

The 'Rosary Across India' is at 5 pm on October 7, 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The 54-day miraculous Rosary Novena for our country and other intentions begins on August 15, 2018 and ends on October 7, 2018. Our Lady is the patroness of India. The Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady coincides with India's Independence Day. It is only apt that we invoke our Lady to spread her mantle of protection over our Motherland India.


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