By Myrna S. Bermudo
Caceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, DD, celebrated Christmas Mass with persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the Bureau ofJail Management and Penology (BJMP) Naga Male Dormitory on December 25. Before the mass, Archbishop Tirona blest the new altar table and lectern at the chapel located at the dorm of BJMP Naga.
The Maximilian Ministry, Commission on Prison Welfare of the Archdiocese of Caceres, spearheaded the celebration of the Eucharist on Christmas Day for PDLs at the various jail facilities in Camarines Sur. The ministry is the social action arm that renders pastoral services to PDLs.
St. Maximilian Kolbe is the patron saint of the PDLs.
“Guided by the principle of Restorative Justice, the Prison Ministry inspires institutions and communities inside and outside of prison facilities to support the restoration of those affected by crime and incarceration,” says the ministry on their social media account.
BJMP Camarines Sur Provincial Jail at Tinangis, Pili; BJMP Iriga City; BJMP Tigaon and BJMP Naga are the locus and the focus of their pastoral activities.
Fr. Jayson Gaite, the chairman of the Maximilian Ministry, said that “the focus of our activities is to provide for the spiritual needs of our brothers and sisters who are PDLs. Thus, we have pastoral services to our brothers and sisters deprived of liberty such as recollections, Sunday masses, prayer meetings, Holy Week activities and Misa De Aguinaldo masses. The mass on Christmas Day was the culmination of the Advent recollections and Aguinaldo Masses.”
Misa de Aguinaldo sa Pueblo Esperanza at Naga City District Jail - Male Dorm were celebrated from December 16 to 24 with the following priests as celebrants: Fr. Christian Guran, Fr. Angel Lorenzo Dorosan, Fr. Jed Anthony Peña, Fr. Nilo Labra SJ, Fr. Mark Anthony Beria, Fr. Stephen Abuan SJ, Fr. Lino Labrador and Fr. Robert Exequiel Rivera SJ.
On Christmas Day, masses were celebrated at various BJMPs. Fr. John Lino Labrador celebrated mass at BJMP Tigaon. Fr. Gaite presided over the Mass at Camarines Sur Provincial Jail and Penal Farm. Meanwhile, Fr. Rex Luis Hidalgo celebrated Mass at the BJMP Naga female dorm and at BJMP Iriga, Fr. Sanny Apin presided. Hygiene kit giving and feeding activities were also conducted.
Fr. Gaite thanked the donors, prison ministry volunteers, the BJMP officers, personnel and the PDLs who were very cooperative and who continuously assist them in their pastoral services. He said that he has learned a lot from the prison ministry. He believes that Jesus is really present in the PDLs who inspire him as a priest. According to him, the biblical passage from Matthew 25:36 that says “I was in prison and you visited me” is being realized as he regularly visits the prison facilites. This time, Jesus present among the PDLs, is the One visiting him.