Conversion in prison
Sr Orencia, a Pallottine sister, works for the Church in Cameroon. Since 2009, she has been working as a prison chaplain. She visits prisoners twice a week at Bafoussam Central Prison. The prison is comprised of a women’s ward, an adult men’s ward and a youth ward. There are about 1000 prisoners.
There has been a Christian community in the prison for 20 years. This community is looked after by a chaplain, volunteers from the Justice and Peace Association, novices from the Xaverian Fathers, Sr Orencia and catechists drawn from the prisoners. In addition to listening attentively to the prisoners and providing material help (medicines, clothing, food), they organize times of prayer, catechesis, mass. The community is under the patronage of Blessed Marcel Callo.
After ACN financed the renovation of the chapel in 2017, several inmates wrote letters of thanks. Here are some excerpts:
- “You have turned our chapel into paradise”
- “Many of the faithful have converted and many who did not come to church are now the first to arrive in the chapel on the Lord’s Day. You have, through your actions, attracted souls who have made a firm resolve to change and to be baptized.”
- “As God never abandons His children when they cry for help, He has sent an angel among us: Sister Orencia, to listen to our cries and transmit them to you. Thank you for everything you do for us, inmates. Many prisoners have converted because of our improved life in the prison environment. Many follow catechesis classes and are part of prayer groups in our Marcel Callo community. By receiving much support from you, we have understood that we are not abandoned despite our faults and that the Lord is always with us. Thanks to God and thanks to you, I consider myself happy to live my detention in the peace, joy and love of Christ.”
- “God allowed me to enter this prison to know him. Outside, I lived in debauchery. In this prison, I am on the path of conversion and have radically changed my way of thinking. All these thanks to God and, through you, through the manifestation of His goodness in my life”.
In his letter of thanks, the chaplain explains the choice of Marcel Callo as their patron:
“Marcel Callo was deported by the German Gestapo to the concentration camps in Germany. His crime was simply this: his detractors said that he was a Christian. He died there at the age of 23. During his detention, he devoted his time to serving his brothers. Today, following Christ, through daily prayers, Eucharistic celebrations by the priests of the Sacred Heart and catechesis, the Marcel Callo community continues the work of evangelization within the prison. This environment makes everyone happy.”
ACN has promised to continue supporting the prison ministry in Cameroon and has just approved a 9,000 Euro project for the pastoral care of prisoners in the main prisons of Kumbo and Nkambe in the Anglophone area of the country.
Agnes Sebaux – ACN France