Success Story: A Chapel and Library for Prison Ministry in Madagascar
For more than 40 years, Father Henryk Sawarski has been a missionary on the island of Madagascar. In 2015, the year proclaimed by Pope Francis as an extraordinary Year of Mercy, this Polish priest was appointed as prison chaplain in the city of Port-Bergé (Boriziny). Prior to that, he had never even been inside a prison. Starting his ministry, he understood just how vital it is in such an environment not only to proclaim the mercy of God, but to make it a tangible reality.
He started with the practical, concrete “corporal” works of mercy. He worked to create better hygiene conditions, working to get rid of the rats and cockroaches. He brought the prisoners food and clothing and helped to provide them with medical care. He “preached” only through these acts of Christian charity, striving to give the prisoners back a little of their human dignity. Very soon the prisoners themselves, of whom very few were Catholic, came to him with their spiritual and psychological needs.
They asked him for his prayers, or for a blessing, wanted some form of religious worship, or simply to unburden themselves of their troubles and guilt-laden lives, to acknowledge their guilt and be reconciled with God and their fellow men, so that after their release from prison they could start a new life.
Again and again Father Henryk witnessed how God can “write straight with crooked lines,” as he puts it. He was able to witness many conversions. As a priest with a particular devotion to the Divine Mercy, Father Henryk has made this message his life‘s mission.
There was still no suitable place in the prison for religious worship or for his pastoral ministry to the prisoners. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to give him $21,000 to enable him to install a small chapel and a little library – together a precious investment on the road to a new life for the prisoners.
Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who have helped!
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