In 2006, Walk by Faith coordinator Marguerita Day and prison chaplain Sr Litia offered prisoners in Whanganui the opportunity to Walk by Faith.
Since then, five men have taken up the challenge as a way to bring healing in their lives.
One of the participants, who has almost completed two-thirds of the three-year diploma course, has written the following:
In 2006 I found myself again among the face of homelessness in Whanganui Prison. Walk by Faith is positioning me in the present, which has a past and an open future.
I needed something to challenge my mind. God sends us prophets who enter our life’s journey. My own prophet was the Catholic Chaplain who asked if I wanted to read the course outline for Walk by Faith. Within a couple of weeks I was signed up and entered a walk that has begun to put those questions and answers that I sought years ago into context.
As a young man I did many scripture/spirituality courses. I may not have been ready then. Walk by Faith is challenging and informative; its presentation is easy to follow and it is prayerful and reflective; it’s about church both as a noun and as a verb; it’s about church history and the scriptures, about what is this faith that I say I have. It’s about community and about the present day; about handing on this treasure we have and about this Jesus whom I say that I follow. It’s about living the Christian life.
I know there are numerous courses one can do but, wanting to keep up with the latest thinking, philosophy, approach etc, can also be an escape from living life. Walk by Faith has given me the opportunity to build a solid foundation which Jesus talked about.
Through this programme I gained the opportunity to discern what changes are needed in my personal and spiritual life. I’m not an isolated individual; I belong to a faith community and Walk by Faith offers the community the same opportunity to discern its life.
A fellow prisoner asked me recently if I knew the bible. How does one answer a question like that? I asked him why. He continued to say that the bible correspondence course he was doing asked him to name the good and the bad sons of Abraham. Wow! Walk by Faith is certainly needed in a prison environment. It may have to be simplified a little because a number of prisoners have poor reading skills.
Sr Litia says: ‘I see the changes in their lives. Walk by Faith helps each of them to find their God in their reading and study for the course. It has helped me to learn more about them and to encourage their faith and my own.’
Walk by Faith has led another group to gather for devotions to Our Lady. And through Walk by Faith’s continuing outreach, a third-year participant who is completing his evangelisation project by visiting and sharing faith has linked up with a group of men in Whanganui Prison.