Each year about seven thousand people pass through the Auckland prisons. On any one day more than 1600 people are imprisoned in Auckland. Their lives do not stop because they are imprisoned. Rather, they continue with family illnesses, deaths, crisis, tragedies and celebrations alike, occuring.
Family events usually occur outside the prison and without a prisoner’s direct participation. For others their links with the outside world lessen as years pass by. As for all people, questions of spirituality and meaning continue despite a prison setting. All of this speaks of the importance of Chaplains being present and able to minister.
At the heart of the Gospel is the imperative to care for those who are in prison. “I was in prison and you visited me”. (Matthew Chapter 25 verse 36). Paul says in his letter to the Hebrews, “Remember those who are in prison as if you were in prison with them”. The presence of chaplains in the prison and of the many volunteers who also contribute to this ministry, is an expression of a lived Gospel. Many say that a measure of how civilised a society is, is given by how the members of that society treats its prisoners. Others say that a similar way exists to measure how a Christian community lives the Gospel.
The presence of our chaplains speaks of this core value of holding genuine concern for those who are imprisoned. Chaplains live the Gospel in a direct and daily way. They move amid the complex and demanding society and community that the prison setting creates. Their contributions are many including ongoing pastoral care or supporting prisoners who are dying or facing personal or family tragedies. They also assist people with their understanding of their spiritual journey, and arranging times for liturgies and other prayer.
Many people support Chaplaincy by visiting people in prison, prayer, financial support and other forms of practical assistance.
Catholic Chaplains in the Auckland Diocese as at November 2015 are:
Auckland Prison West Division: David Marshall & Ramon Manaloto: Telephone (09) 413 7700 Ext 79615
Mt Eden Corrections: Peter Hay MacKenzie: Telephone (09) 623 7942
Northern Region Corrections Facility (Ngawha): Gwendoline Tahana: Telephone (09) 401 5844
Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility (Wiri): Halamehi Anae : Telephone (09) 250 9497
Auckland South Corrections Facility (Wiri): Reg Willis : Telephone (09) 250 5900
Prison Chaplaincy is supported by Catholic Social Services and the by the National Senior Catholic Prison Chaplain, refer: Sr Veronica Casey PBVM (09) 027 5233 983.