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num. 519 - February 2012


Cameroon - Christmas in the prison

On December 21, 2011, we had the third edition of the “Ceremony of the Christmas tree” at the Central Prison in Garoua. It is project begun in 2009 by the “Program of Christian preachers” at the prison. Over the past year, Fr. Thierry SIMO (provincial secretary in the Cameroon) has been in charge of leading this program as chaplain in the Garoua prison. So, on December 21, Archbishop Antoine Ntalou of Garoua was present, as in previous years, to celebrate this Eucharist. While emphasizing his delight at being there in this place so in need of human warmth, he recalled that it is not a place to stay forever, for “no one is made for prison.” On this occasion, which was interspersed by cultural activities, the program offered a hearty meal to the 1300 residents of the prison.

Ministry in prisons is something dear to the Oblates. We recall that from the beginning of his priestly ministry, Saint Eugene de Mazenod went into the prisons of Aix to manifest the presence of Christ to those who are dear to Him (Matt. 25:36). Today, this presence is felt in a startling way in a changing society, both nationally and internationally. Through this commitment, we rekindle our fundamental choice to be where our dear humanity is so sorely lacking, so that our “preferential option for the poor with their many faces” might still be up front. (Fr. Thierry Simo)