Rt Rev Richard Moth, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and lead bishop for prisons for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, together with Catholic prisons charity Pact (Prison Advice and Care Trust), launched the first Catholic criminal justice ‘roadshow’ in July 2019, at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Cobham, Surrey.
The event was attended by more than 80 parishioners of the diocese. Introducing the day, Bishop Moth said, “We have 83,000 people in prison. Our society resorts to imprisonment quite easily; sentences have got longer, and we imprison people largely in Victorian buildings designed for incarceration, not for rehabilitation.” Inviting attendees to ask themselves, “What can I do?” he encouraged individual Catholics, and whole parish communities, to find out how they might get involved in the work of Pact and other organisations, to offer hope to people affected by imprisonment.
Parishioners heard presentations and took part in workshops. They were particularly moved by a talk from Jamie, an ex-prisoner who is working with Pact to raise awareness. “In 1997, I murdered two men,” Jamie said, before outlining his journey from knife killer, through to seeking reconciliation and help. “I consider every day a privilege,” he said, “and it all started with my first visitor on my first day in prison, a priest called Fr Frank.” He spoke about how he had repented of his crime and prayed regularly for his victims at their families. A practising Catholic, Jamie encouraged those in attendance to think about how they might make a difference to those in prison.
To find out more about how you or your parish can hold a similar event in your diocese, email Parish.Action@prisonadvice.org.uk
Photo credit: Lisa Lewis, Pact