“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
A Car for Pastoral Work in Malawi
“I was in prison and you visited me” (Mt. 25:36). The Church has taken these words to heart and manifests a special concern everywhere for the pastoral care of prisoners. Experience has shown that this kind of prison apostolate often bears rich fruit, with former offenders again and again finding their way back onto the right path. Acknowledging their past faults, they resolve, once they have served their time, to “go straight,” get married, have children and find an honest trade.
The good news that, after repenting of their deeds, they have been forgiven by God is a source of new life to them. Often this is the first time in their lives they have experienced the fact that they are loved by God, and that someone is taking a personal interest in them. Their lives are often a tragic history of lovelessness and confusion, a web from which they cannot disentangle themselves alone. Thankfully, through the grace of God and the support and accompaniment of the priest or pastoral worker, they now find the strength to break through this vicious spiral.
In the Diocese of Zomba, in southern Malawi, Father Ephraim Chikwiri is chaplain to five different prisons. He not only celebrates Holy Mass there, but also organizes monthly retreat days and Bible study courses in which, under his guidance, the inmates reflect together on the Bible. He gives religious instruction and supports the prisoners in their difficult psychological and social situations.
“The Church must bring healing to a broken society and restore human souls,” Father Chikwiri says, and he is often able to help them in their material needs, as well. The situation in most African prisons is often appalling, and more often than not the inmates lack even the basic necessities of life. Under these difficult conditions, Father Chikwiri also strives to offer support and counsel to the prison guards and to minister to them pastorally. This, too, is a very important aspect of his work, since otherwise there is a constant danger of the prison staff failing in their duty of care and resorting to arbitrary violence, corruption or brutality.
On a practical level, Father Ephraim needs a good vehicle for his ministry, since the prisons are often situated in remote and inaccessible regions, some of them up to 30 miles away. His aging moped, now 10 years old, was never suitable for these journeys, and has broken down. Public transportation, where available in these areas, is difficult and time-consuming, taking valuable time and energy that he needs to be able to devote to his proper duties. We have promised him $30,600 for a car.
Will you give to help Father Chikwiri in his outreach to both prisoners and their guards in Malawi?
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