Diary of the Ghetto Priest | Christ is the reason!
Here it is, the most celebrated season of the year. Jesus is born. We visited two prisons; the prison for women (150), on South Camp Road, and the prison for men (1,500) at Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre.
In prison, there are the greatest sinners, the most feared in society, and the most hated. There is a woman who has murdered another woman with an ice pick; there is another who threw acid in the face of a man; there is a girl who stabbed another girl in a rage over a boy. Why? Why? Why? There is so much humiliation, so much fury, so much frustration. There is no self-control, no guidance, no direction, no future, no hope!
The women who seemed so gentle were in the women's prison with three little babies. They gave birth to these kids with the cells as their manger; babies without a daddy, without any sister or brother or uncle or aunt. Their mothers seemed so helpless, and begged with their eyes for love and help and some hope in the future.
We gave food, drinks, a Christmas message, and most of all, our presence. We sat together, sang together, prayed together. A few of the ladies asked if they could hug me. They were so respectful! The brothers listened to their stories, and everybody acknowledged their sins and weaknesses, and a divine brotherhood fell over us. We spent many hours together and felt so privileged to be with our fellow sisters, these prisoners. They were so beautiful, even the tough, rough, ones carried a tenderness with them despite their lapses of anger and evil.
Lord, have mercy!
Christ, have mercy!
Lord, have mercy!
He murdered his wife 10 years ago ... he is sorry
The Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre had 1,500 prisoners. The brothers cooked all night long until 4:00 a.m. After Mass, we prepared for the feast. The brothers were tired and weary, but we did it for the Lord who told us "I have come to bring good news to the poor and to set the prisoners free."
All the prisoners hailed us! They wanted so badly to talk and share their dreaded crimes. One man had murdered his wife 10 years ago. He had seen the brothers on TV. He saw them with the sick and the dying. He saw them bathing the street people, wiping up their mess; he saw them lifting up the cripples. He saw them with the HIV patients. He began praying and reading the Bible. He repented for his sins. He began caring for the sick and the dying in the prisons. No work was too difficult for him. Sometimes he found himself weeping. Sometimes he found himself joyful. He said he learnt to love, to be kind, and he hated himself for the murder he committed against his wife. He has two children. His mother takes care of them. She is now 78 years old. He begged me to get him on parole so that he could help his mother before she dies and to take care of his two kids. There is no one who wants to take care of them.
Then there was the young man, 28 years old, who murdered a friend on the football field. They were against each other in a match. He kicked him in the head. He kicked him, kicked him, kicked him until he was dead. "I don't understand! I don't understand Father. Forgive me."
Then there the pastor who had this beautiful face full of happiness. He preached powerfully and full of love for God. Why did commit that sin of sex against a woman?
So much cruelty, so much sin, so much hatred. God, forgive us all! God, forgive us all! Have mercy on us! Christ, have mercy on us all. We wished we could have stayed longer.
On Christmas eve, there is Mass, prayers, friendship, some breaking of bread, and soup.
It's been a wonderful Christmas Season. On Christmas day, we celebrated the birth of Jesus; before that, we celebrated in the liturgy, the coming of the Holy Spirit on Mary, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to all of us.
Happy and Holy Christmas Season! Jesus has come into our lives. He has given reason and meaning to our suffering. He has opened heaven's doors, through which he came, and will return again!