Jesuit Prison Ministry
“I was in prison and you visited me” Matthew 25:36
The Jesuit Prison Ministry is one of the main programmes of the Jesuit Foundation in Thailand. With financial support from Jesuit Missions, The Jesuit Prison Ministry assists prisoners who are held in different prisons within the Kingdom of Thailand.
This project was initiated by Fr. Olivier Morin, S.J.,in October 1991. He started by visiting only one African man from Benin (who was French speaking) at the request of the French Embassy. Father Olivier then discovered the difficult life which foreign prisoners have — no help from outside, no family, no friends, no one to visit them or to help them. From those humble beginnings (of a visit to one prisoner), the services have been extended and developed according to the needs that surfaced. At present there is a full-time team of seven lay people assisting more than 1,800 prisoners.
The current Director, to Ms. Vilaiwan Phoktavi, writes: “Our aim is to serve, accompany, and advocate for the prisoners, especially for those who are poor and have no visitors. We visit the prisoners in ten Thai prisons regularly every month; we talk with them as we would with our friends, our brothers and sisters. During our regular visits, we are able to become their friends, giving family-like support and encouraging them with hope. We can share our experiences of life together. We can also support them by providing some basic needs, e.g. toiletries, clothes, supplementary food, medicine, etc.” Besides visiting and providing basic needs, the team can also help to make contacts with the prisoner’s family (if they have any). Some prisoners do have families that can send a little money to help them. Our motto is“You are greater than your fault.”This simple statement is a great encouragement to both prisoners and our team. This sentence allows us to keep in mind the value of our own humanity.This is our way of following Christ, of meeting Christ, of serving Christ, of showing care and concern and love to our brothers and sisters.