Home' Aurora : Aurora November 2012 Contents 19
www.mn.catholic.org.au Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
system has failed."
Lack of resources, particularly staff, often impacts
on support programs. If security is inadequate
because of staff shortages, courses can't
proceed. Paul referred to a statement made
by prisoner advocate Brett Collins who
said, "The majority of prisoners want to be
comfortable. They only feel comfortable if
the prison officers are comfortable. Prison
officers are only comfortable if there are
enough prison officers."
While there are exceptions to the rule, Paul
said most inmates were keen to be productive
-- "I have come across only a handful of 'really evil
people' in nearly 20 years. The changed culture within
correctional centres has resulted in less brutality, and
for many inmates, that mental toughness has been
broken down. But I really don't have the answers for
successful rehabilitation -- no two people are the same
and it's very hard to overcome that human element.
"Ours is a very hazardous environment to work in -- it can
be very dysfunctional -- there's a high suicide rate, high
incidence of alcoholism. The turnover is high. Having
said that, if I can turn one person around, plant one
seed and help that person, it's a good thing!"
Saving souls -- a Chaplain's prayer...
Recently appointed chaplain at Cessnock Correctional
Centre, Deacon Peter Little sees his role as one of
engagement without judgement and liaises with all
inmates who are willing to engage and wish to better
their predicament. He notes that "the chaplain's role is
to be that presence that offers a hand to reconnect, get
up and walk, run ahead."
He is hopeful that his listening, reflective presence
gives emotional, spiritual and practical support and will
assist the inmate to a better direction in life. Through
numerous programs which support positive lifestyles,
and addressing requests (which may involve attending
family events like funerals), there are practical ways
to help. These are always done in collaboration with
corrective service officers. Peter also supports the
officers by providing spiritual and emotional support. He
too attests to the team atmosphere within the prison.
Peter confirms that many inmates are broken people -
broken before they enter prison, and through no fault
of their own, don't know what a "normal" life is. They
feel isolated from society, forgotten, worthless and in
a place where hope is elusive. His goal is to help them
"see the sails on a distant yacht from the position of
dumping shore breakers", recognise their anger and
rage and help them reflect on those feelings and search
for the meaning of life. In Peter's opinion there are other
worthy professionals to assist and counsel inmates
with personal management strategies.
As part of his role, Peter includes time for prayer and
liturgy, as well as other prayer services which involve
other chaplains from differing faith backgrounds.
Mass is celebrated and in Peter's words can be a
different experience; "for some this is a strange new
experience, some a regular familiarity, and for others
a quenching of thirst that has lingered for a long
time." Some inmates are involved in theological,
biblical and spiritual studies outside the prison
and are supported by Peter.
The chaplain's role is also vital when
returning an inmate to society. "Inmates
are often fearful of an unknown future, re-
offending, a different society, and cultural
differences. It can be a confusing time...
what will I do, how will I work, sleep, eat, clothe
myself, care for my family? How do I speak to them?
Language and society are so different from 5, 10, 20+
On page 7 of Building Bridges not Walls is a statement
by chaplains from the World Congress of the
International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral
Care: "We strongly advocate and work for justice that
restores, heals and protects; a justice that makes
the offenders accountable for what they have done;
a justice that provides restitution to the victims
who are most of the time ignored and forgotten
Deacon Peter Little at Cessnock Correctional Centre.
often fearful of
an unknown future,
At David Lloyd Funerals, we believe
sensible financial planning includes many
things -- like making your will.
For the same reasons, consider
prearranging and prepaying your funeral.
You get the funeral you want, your funds
are secure and you lock in an
Peace of mind for you and
those you love.
For the same reasons you've
written your will
Adamstown 4957 0237
Belmont 4945 9022
Beresfield 4966 5277
Toronto 4959 3600
by the current justice system; a justice that engages
the community in facilitating the healing process, thus
leading to the re-integration of the victim and the offender
to the community." Peter agrees with an accompanying
statement on the same page which urges every chaplain
working in the prison environment to "discover the face of
Christ in every prisoner".
His final view of his role in his own words is: "This is a
humble role...it is not a role that approaches from above
as though the chaplain is a perfect human, located
somewhere between humanity and divinity. It is a role
that engages and walks alongside."
Links Archive Aurora October 2012 Aurora December 2012 Navigation Previous Page Next Page