Prison chaplains from throughout New Zealand came together last month to strengthen their ministries by being trained in accompanying people in prisons in their grief.

Senior Prison Chaplain Sr Veronica Casey, PBVM, said many of the people in prison have grief that has largely gone unacknowledged.

“They carry the pain with them into more and more dysfunctional lifestyles turning to alcohol, drugs and other risk-taking and addictive behaviours to cover the pain,” she said.

The prison chaplains underwent Seasons for Growth training in accompanying people who are working through their grief. The training was held at the Pompallier Diocesan Centre in Auckland on June 12 and 13.

Sr Casey observed that people deal with pain “often through drink, drugs, withdrawal, anger, which exacerbates the grief we are holding on to, and in turn can affect our future”.

“Our experience of working with people in prison over the years has taught us that often, these men and women have felt they had no choice, they had no power over their lives,” she said.

“Seasons for Growth gives them a voice, it encourages the making of good, positive, life-giving choices for the future,” said Sr Casey who is currently based in Dunedin diocese.

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