Led by the parish priest Fr Aaron Alcoseba and members of the parish council, the parish community of Mary Help of Christians in Bangkok have been ministiring to people behind bars. This mission is in its tenth year of service and is part of the pastoral plan of the Church, a 'work of mercy' which is done every month.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which first entered Thailand in February of 2020, the working team have been prevented from holding their usual visits. Thankfully, prison authorities have started to allow this pastoral work again at the beginning of October as the virus infection in Thailand has eased, and there has been no domestic infections for 120 days.

Usually Fr. Aaron visits the three prison centres every month together with some faithful. The prisons visited are the Thanyaburi District Prison, the Min Buri Prison and the Pathum Thani Detention Centre.

Reconciliation in PrisonFr Aaaron offers the sacrament of reconciliation to an inmate.

The main purpose of the monthly visits has been to minister to Catholic prisoners by means of formation activities, catechetics, sacrament of reconciliation, holy Mass, and other liturgical services.

It has been observed that prisoners of other religions - Buddhists and Islam - chose freely to join in the activities because they were impressed by the atmosphere of the formation.

Moreover, those who were present during the activities were given a 'certificate of presence' which would entitle them to a reduction of their prison sentence. Aside from this, there were also some who received catechetical instruction and, eventually, the sacrament of baptism.

The pastoral work for those in prison is one other work that the sons of Don Bosco in Thailand show interest in. Don Bosco has been the example for us in visiting the youth imprisoned and those on the peripheries of society.

This pastoral work gives hope to those behind bars to start a new phase of their lives because nothing can be done about what happened in the past, but the future can start today.

This story originally appeared in BoscoLink