Fr Motsiri Mosai OMI


International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care

Fr Motsiri Mosai OMI

Prison Chaplaincy
Archidiocese of Bloemfontein


International Commission for Catholic Prison Pastoral Care

Report on the Conference on Restorative Justice,

5th -12th April 2008 - Linbe, Camaroon.

A team of Trainers from Canada together with I.C.C.P.P.C organized with Sr.Jacky (Co-ordinator ICCPPC Africa) for the Seminar to train Prison Chaplains from all over Africa.

As Prison Chaplain for the Archdiocese of Bloemfontein, I was asked by our Archbishop Jabulani Nxumalo to attend. I am happy to have this opportunity and exposure. Besides putting our Archdiocese on the International map of commitment to Prison Ministry. It also helped me as a beginner, to realise that for all stake-holders this is primarily a special call. And to be trained in it brings greater freedom and inspiration in my ministry.

The conference was attended by 53 Prison Chaplains from 13 countries from the African Continent. The topic for the Week was “Restorative Justice”. For me this theme unfolded throughout the week came out as the WAY of Jesus. It called us to a holistic mission to offenders, victims and community as integrated and interrelated. It strives to restore a better life to offenders and victims and thereby involving community to build up a better life for all as consequence.

The training Team was composed of :

Rev. Pierre Allard, experienced Canadian National Chaplain for many years, with a deep personal experience of Jesus and Called to this special ministry. He was the main Instructor. He presented Restorative Justice as Biblically based and a basic orientation to caring for the community and community offenders and victims alike.

2-Rev. Fr. Philippe Landenne SJ, he too an experienced National Prison Chaplain in Belgium and by profession a Lawyer. He was good in exposing the history of Justice and pointed out that the present day challenge is: Restorative Justice as a move-away from the Classical, punitive, retributive and judgmental approach. He also stressed the importance of the ministry of Presence especially to inmates.

3-Rev.John from Rwanda, well experienced in the Rwandan situation, gave an exposition of how the message of Jesus is restoring immense hope and life through the mediating of offenders and victims. Reconciling the community came out as daily reality in this country. He exposed extensively the history and dangers of tribal divisions. I fear that this could become a reality in our Country too.

4.Rev.Sr. Jaqueline(Jacky) Atabong. She has been a great Chaplain for Prisons for the past 21 yrs, especially in Douala Prison, where she exposed the whole group to prisoners and the difficult situation they were living in. She showed us the different projects she was doing there to help offenders. She has even build a home for ex-prisoners who can no longer trace their families. These prisoners are doing great projects there to sustain themselves and to be self-sufficient through skills-training.

A Cameroonian Canonist also presented a Talk on: Justice and Mercy.

The Cameroonian Lawyer presented the New Code of Cameroon's Law. He highlighted the importance of Citizens, especially Chaplains, as well as offenders and victims getting themselves accustomed to reading it to know their rights and duties according to the Law.

The owner of the Holiday Inn where we were lodging gave her testimony as a retired Judge. She highlighted the importance of our work as chaplains to prisons. And shared how she had applied the Classical approach of Justice all her life to criminals with less emphasis on the restorative aspects of justice, because most lawyers don't have much time to follow up on victims and offenders.

We had great Eucharistic Liturgies everyday of the week with the main celebrants rotating from among our chaplains with their diverse experience. We experienced great solidarity in our One Calling: Being ministers to the most neglected and rejected in society.

On the Sunday we concelebrated in the Limbe local Community Sunday English Mass.

The Archbishop responsible for Justice and Peace in Cameroon concluded our Conference with Mass. He encouraged us to do a great job as chaplains in prisons. And that we continue to do this for them in Jesus' stead because they, as bishops, have little or no time because of many commitments. He said, visiting prisoners who bear the face of Jesus is a very important work, because Jesus mentioned them as among the least of His brothers and sisters. He mentions that this ministry is made possible by Jesus himself - therefore we should not give up in spite of the many difficulties.

There was a good atmosphere and deep solidarity felt throughout the week; brought about by our common experience with inmates in their diversities. This experience was emerging and merging us into one brotherhood/sisterhood following Jesus' Call.

I have sent you to bring the Good News to the poor,

tell prisoners they are prisoners no more,

tell blind people that they can see,

set the downtrodden free,

and tell everyone that the kingdom of God is at hand”.

Remember those who are in prison

as though you were in prison with them”

I was in prison and you visited me”

Presents God as betrayed lover who reaches out to

redeem his people in spite of their incessant unfaithfulness.”

God is Love,

God is Just,

therefore Love is Just

and to be Just is to Love”.

To know God is to know both Justice&Love”

Proof Love cannot bear the demands of Justice

because Justice often stops at Judgement, Punishment and Retribution.

BUT as Karl Bath says:

“God's judgement is Love,

and His verdict is Mercy”.

We are at the centre where the demands of love and justice tear at the very core of the human heart – often feeling human and helpless but our presence is used by God of the helpless and powerless, the lonely, the lowly and the rejected in society, in the manner that it was used gracefully in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus His Son.

Summarized and compiled by:

Fr.Motsiri Mosai OMI
Prison Chaplain Archdiocese of Bloemfontein