Prison Ministry in Fiji

Church dance at juvenile center open day
Church dance at juvenile center open day

Seminiarians on the Spiritual Year

By Fr. Patrick Colgan

Fr. Colgan and three seminarians
Fr. Colgan (right) and three seminarians

One of the highlights of our week here in the Spiritual Year House is our visit to either the Prison Remand Facility in Suva or the Juvenile Rehabilitation Center also in the capital city. The latter is for boys under the age of 18 who have committed a crime but cannot be admitted to the standard prison system. Both places provide rich opportunities for individual counselling, which we do under the trees and sheds at the Juvenile Center and in a communal legal aid room at the Remand.

The juveniles often come from broken, very poor families, constraining them to steal or commit burglaries in order to survive. The Remand prisoners are older; many of them are also awaiting sentencing for aggravated burglary, domestic violence and in some cases, murder. It has been quite a challenge for us engaging in conversation with “criminals” whose story we have seen on the previous evening’s national news. One has to work hard to suspend one’s prejudices, or the media’s slant on the case, in order to allow the person to express himself as he wishes or needs.

Juvenile detainees enjoying entertainment on open day
Juvenile detainees enjoying entertainment on open day

On our return home, the students are encouraged to write down particularly significant (or difficult) conversations, detailing their feelings during it, and how they felt God was asking them to be a channel of Christian understanding to this fellow human being. We then discuss these reports one by one each week, gaining valuable insights into our own interior dynamics and listening skills.

Juvenile detainee artwork on display
Juvenile detainee artwork on display

We pray for our friends in both Juvenile and Remand in our daily Eucharist, and often find that they are the ones who have mirrored Christ’s presence to us, more than any other event, that day. We come to experience for ourselves the Master’s words: “I was in prison and you visited me… insofar as you did this to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25)

Columban Fr. Patrick Colgan lives and works in Fiji.

Issue: 

About us

Columban logoThe Columbans are a society of missionaries, including priests and lay people, who minister to people of various cultures as a way of witnessing to the universal love of God.

We go in the name of the Church to announce, by deed and word, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Quick Contact

Missionary Society of St. Columban
1902 N. Calhoun
St. Columbans, NE 68056
Phone: 877-299-1920
Fax: 402-291-4984
email: mission@columban.org