The Catholic Church is committed to ensuring a Catholic prison chaplaincy presence in all New Zealand public prisons, and therefore there is a least one Catholic chaplain in all public prisons.
Traditionally this service was carried out almost exclusively by priests but now it includes religious sisters and brothers and lay chaplains. The service is supported in full by the NZ Bishops and the Department of Corrections and works along side other Christian chaplain groups.
The ministry of Chaplains among prisoners is given a high priority by the prison management. The spiritual needs of prisoners are taken seriously and chaplains have access to the prison that can be so impersonal and threatening to many. A chaplain’s presence can have a calming and peaceful effect. In times of loneliness and despair, chaplains are well positioned to be an independent compassionate advocate.
In a typical week chaplains will conduct prayer and sacramental liturgies, Bible studies and help organise religious programmes such as Seasons for Growth and Alpha. Supporting the chaplains are many church groups who volunteer to join and give a lead to the prisoners in worship sessions on Sundays.
Rimutaka and Arohata Prisons
David Wootton, Phone (04) 529 0860