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SUPPORT THROUGH FAITH-SHARING



We have seen a significant rise in the number of people imprisoned in local jails and prisons since the 1970s. Their incarceration could be due to various social issues, such as drug and poverty-related crimes, gangsterism and other related problems. Unfortunately, many of these individuals face challenges when trying to reintegrate into society after their release.

 

The Archdiocesan Catholic Prison Ministry (ACPM) was founded in 1985 after the headquarters of the Prison was moved from Pudu to Kajang. The aim of the ACPM is to assist incarcerated individuals to regain their self-respect and dignity so that they can become valuable members of society after their release. Additionally, the ACPM members expect these individuals to lead worthy lives and be accepted back into society. The ACPM is inspired by the Gospel’s spirit of “I was in Prison, and you visited me” (Matt 25:35ff).

 

At present, there are 22 priests, including Archbishop Julian Leow, who hold permits to visit prisons in the states of Selangor, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Terengganu. There are approximately 90 volunteers who hold permits, too, and regularly visit prisoners in the Remand Blocks, Sentence Blocks (men and women) and Death Row - to share the Christian faith and the Word of God, provide counselling and perform other religious activities. During the seasons of Advent and Lent, Priests make themselves available to celebrate the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist for prisoners in preparation for Christmas and Easter. Over the past 10 years, the Prison Ministry has extended their outreach to the Dioceses of Penang and Melaka-Johor.

 


During each visit to prisons, the Core Team of the Prison Ministry for the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur writes a letter to the Malaysian Prison Department Headquarters in Kajang, Selangor, requesting permission for the clergy in the Archdiocese to hear confessions and celebrate Masses for the inmates. This year, permission was only granted after the Third Week of Easter due to the fasting month of Ramadhan and Hari Raya celebrations. We are grateful that the relevant authorities allowed the ACPM to make visits to the prisons.

 

During each prison visit, either a priest or volunteer discovers the challenging experience of the prisoners, providing them with sacraments, spiritual needs, as well as psychological and physical support. On a recent visit to Bentong Prison, the ACPM met an Indonesian man in his twenties, who requested his First Holy Communion. After assisting him with his personal confession, Archbishop Julian Leow gave him Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time. With approval from the prison authorities, we also collected details from those who requested Bibles, spiritual reading materials, eyeglasses, and other permissible items.

 

We treat incarcerated individuals with love, care and support through faith-sharing. We lead them to God, bring them to greater awareness, and comfort their troubled hearts by trusting God—“Do not let your heart be troubled; trust in God and trust in Jesus,” (John 14:1).




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