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Tuesday, January 17, 2017
First ecumenical service for prisons
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¬†The first ecumenical service for prisons took place at St Peter's Catholic Church (The Italian Church) in Clerkenwell on Tuesday night. A candle was lit for each of the 141 prisons in England and Wales. A special 142nd candle was lit for the prisoners held in police cells under the Government's 'Operation Safeguard.' Monsignor Malachy Keegan, Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain to prisons officiated, together with ministers and chaplains from various Christian denominations. Baroness Patricia Scotland, Minister for Criminal Justice, participated in the service, offering one of the prayers for victims of crime, prisoners, prisoners children and families, the judiciary, and others affected by crime. After the service, she praised the work of faith-based charities, prison chaplains and churches and other faith groups which supported prisoners being released from prison. The service was organized by PACT (The Prison Advice & Care Trust), a charity working with prisoners and prisoners' families in a number of prisons, which drew together representatives of Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodists and Free Churches, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventists and Black Majority Churches. Andy Keen-Downs, the charity's Director, called upon churches to support prisoners' families and to support prisoners' leaving prisons who have no family to turn to for help. She said: ''For many prisoners, it's the family that offers the single most cost-effective reason for not re-offending. Being able to return to a home, with people who love you, gives you hope. It gives you a degree of stability. It gives you the chance of getting a job ≠ of an honest wage. It gives you omething to look forward to when you're doing your time. "We know of course that for some prisoners, there is no family to turn to, no one to visit. For them there is no community other than E Wing. For these men and women, I believe we have an amazing opportunity to show what we mean when we talk about a 'community'. Prisons Week begins on Sunday 19th November, and will see churches and faith groups across the country hold services to pray for prisoners, prisoners families, victims of crime, and those who work in the criminal justice system.' Source: PACT
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