THAILAND: Young prisoners find hope as activities resume
Salesian missionaries with Mary Help of Christians Parish in Bangkok resume prison ministry activities
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries with Mary Help of Christians Parish in Bangkok, Thailand, have resumed their prison support activities after COVID-19 restrictions put a halt to their work earlier this year. Once a month for the past 10 years, Father Aaron Alcoseba, the Salesian parish priest, has visited the three main detention centers of Thanyaburi, Min Buri and Pathum Thani.
Fr. Alcoseba provides pastoral support to people in prison, especially young prisoners. This mission is part of the pastoral plan of the local church. This year, for the first time, these visits had to stop, but Fr. Alcoseba was pleased when he was allowed to return to his normal activities in the prison in October.
The main purpose of the visits is to assist Catholic prisoners through formation and catechesis activities and to offer the opportunity to approach the sacrament of Reconciliation, to participate in Mass or to attend other liturgical services.
Since Fr. Alcoseba’s return, prisoners of other faiths, both Buddhists and Muslims, have also decided to join the activities. They said they felt especially impressed by the way the formation is carried out. All who participate receive a certificate of attendance, which entitles them to a reduction in their prison sentence, provided other conditions are met as well.
“Prison pastoral care is a ministry the spiritual Sons of Don Bosco in Thailand show great interest in. Don Bosco was an example for us in visiting young people in prison and who are on the margins of society,” explained Fr. Alcoseba.
The pastoral activities instill hope for those in prison and offer them incentives to start a new phase in their lives. Salesian missionaries note that if it is true that nothing can be done to remove what happened in the past, it is also true that the future is still to be written and that one can work for the prospect of a better tomorrow.
Salesian missionaries provide education and social programs in Thailand to give poor and disadvantaged youth an opportunity for a brighter future. Also in Bangkok, Salesian missionaries operate Don Bosco Technological College, which has been ensuring poor youth have access to advanced education since 1949. Education programs allow youth to gain the skills needed to find and retain stable employment. To do that successfully, the college has developed partnerships which help train youth in employment sectors that need a skilled workforce and have the jobs available to hire youth right after graduating.
Thailand has shown considerable economic growth over the last 20 years, reducing its poverty rate from 21 percent in 2000 to 10.9 percent today, according to the World Bank. Although the country has made strides in reducing poverty, improving nutrition and meeting the basic needs of its residents, inequality is still pervasive.
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Salesian Missions – Thailand
World Bank – Thailand