Prisons Week raises awareness and generates prayer. It motivates volunteers to step forward and give their time and gifts, in prisons and in their own communities. It provides an annual focus and reason for Christians to work together, building capacity and motivation to make a difference for people who are out of sight and often out of mind. ‘Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’ Hebrews 4 v16 NKJV
Foreword by Rt Rev Richard Moth Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and Catholic Bishops’ Conference Liaison Bishop for Prisons
“To boldly go where no one has gone before” Who can forget these immortal words of Captain James T. Kirk announcing his star trekking mission?
The writer to the Hebrews recognises an even more challenging journey in his call to boldness. And yet it is a journey that anyone can travel, especially at times of need, the journey to a God who promises justice, grace and mercy. Those who through their own actions, or the actions of others, find themselves engaged with our penal system and those who work and volunteer in criminal justice, can find that they are travelling this path. The prisoner, the victim, the family member, uniformed and support staff, magistrates, prison chaplains – all can find themselves calling out or silently yearning for mercy and grace to help them in times of need. The motivation and encouragement to keep moving forwards can be drowned out by the pressing, competing voices of very real needs.
The light at the journey’s end might be elusive. But we believe that it is before God’s throne, surrounded by the power of grace, that all those who are searching and asking will truly find the help they seek. In Prisons Week, as we boldly approach His throne, let us stand together in prayer with those struggling to cope with imprisonment or involvement in our criminal justice system: that all affected will know what it means to find the compassion of God’s mercy and the grace of Jesus Christ, carrying us through particular and difficult times of need. “To boldly go” … where many have gone before, and where we go together, in prayer.
Sunday 14th October marks the annual day of prayer and action within the Catholic community in England and Wales, with the message to ‘Go Beyond’ to help the most vulnerable in local communities. Please look out for Pact’s Prisoners’ Sunday posters and leaflets if you visit a church between now and the end of Prison Week on 20th October. Pact was formed from small beginnings, in 1898, when our records show we helped a child who had no one to care for her. Her name, fittingly, was Roots.Today we work in 64 prisons as well as in many Courts and local community settings, and last year we helped thousands of prisoners, and almost a quarter of a million children and families to maintain contact with their loved ones.
The Prisons Week Prayer – Lord, you offer freedom to all people. We pray for those in prison. Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist. Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends, prison staff and all who care. Heal those who have been wounded by the actions of others, especially the victims of crime. Help us to forgive one another, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ in his strength and in his Spirit, now and every day. Amen.