Prison: a place of rebirth

On Sunday 28 April 2024, we, the novices of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, went to visit the inmates of the central prison in the town of Ngaoundéré, Cameroon. Knowing their difficult living conditions, this visit was intended to be an act of compassion… thanks to our Lenten deprivations 2024.

Several days beforehand, we asked about the practicalities of entering the prison. On Sunday, we took part in a mass led by the prisoners themselves and celebrated by Father Aloys, an Oblate missionary of Mary Immaculate and prison chaplain for the diocese of Ngaoundéré. In his homily, he urged us to always keep our eyes fixed on Christ, despite what we may be going through, and never to forget that the Lord always gives us opportunities to be converted.

After the joyful celebration of the Eucharist, each of us introduced ourselves: our name, our nationality and what we do. Just after Father Aloys’ final blessing, we gave each prisoner 3 pieces of antiseptic soap; the sick and those in the vicinity also received some. Through this gesture of attention and fraternity, we could see on the faces of the prisoners the feeling of being considered, supported and loved despite their situation and their history. For our part, with their magnificent choir, we continued the entertainment with songs and dances. We were delighted to see in them a joy of hope.

At the end of a day filled with so many emotions, we returned home full of the joy we had given and received. These opportunities for attention and affection give the inmates a renewed zest for life and can be a source of inner strength. This moment will remain engraved in our memories as a time of communion with the most vulnerable. May our Lord continue to touch our hearts so that we are always challenged by the lives of others.

Nina SOMḖ, novice, for the DHS Novitiate community in NGAOUNDḖRḖ-Marza.
Published on 10 May 2024