Jesus invites us to put into practice this Word of the Gospel. “I was a prisoner and you visited me” (Mt 25:36).
Jesus sends two of us, Zawadi Barungu and Mari Angeles Yaniz, to the prison in Laghouat. We visit the prisoners there every two weeks. Since Laghouat is 220 km from Ghardaia, we go by car.
The prisoners we visit have no relationship with the outside world. Far from their family, their country, without visits, they feel forgotten.
Our presence brings them joy and hope. On each visit we meet between 22 and 24 men from different countries, languages, Christians from different churches. It is a joy to go and meet them, we love them and they have great confidence in us.
Before the visit we prepare the text of the Sunday Gospel with a little commentary that we look for, a psalm and a prayer, which sometimes they themselves express. We translate these texts into English and French and print them out to give everyone a sheet to keep for prayer and reflection.
We take the time to contact the families of those who keep in touch. This allows us to have exchanges, send and receive news and even photos. You have to see the feelings of joy and hope when the news arrives. Some send a little money. We act as intermediaries and send the money order.
Prayer is a big part of the visit. The Word of God is central. After the reading of the Gospel there is a time of silence and interiorization. We feel how the Word becomes flesh in their lives and restores the spiritual, human and psychological aspect in each of them, giving them peace and inner freedom. And little by little they regain their dignity in the eyes of God who loves them. In the midst of their suffering, the living of the Word creates a climate of fraternity, joy and hope.
Sr Mari Angeles Yániz, Ghardaïa Community (Algeria)