Help to the imprisoned
More than 200 people (including priests, seminarians, religious and lay people) are involved in penitentiary service of the UGCC. The main areas of the service are sermons, catechization, administering of the Holy Sacraments, encouraging preservation of the family ties.
There are many activities organized in different institutions: retreats, concerts, sport competitions etc. One of the interesting activities is intensification of creative performance of the imprisoned, namely organization of arts and crafts exhibitions of the imprisoned, the winners of which participate in international concourses.
Redemptorist monks (Order of the Most Holy Redeemer) take care of the imprisoned in 7 prisons. They also publish a periodical “Zakon I Blahodat” (Law and Grace). The faithful of the UGCC also serve in Chernigiv and Zbarazh women’s settlements. For more than 16 years Rev. Ihor Onyshkevych and Mrs. Marta Blikhar from Kyiv have been helping out the imprisoned women and their families from Chernigiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Uman, Zbarazh, Melitopol through a special “Mailing Service”. The chaplains of the UGCC serve in the youth settlements in Pryluky, Berezhany, Sambir and Dubno.
Priests and volunteers, being aware of a great need in qualified workers, have been participants of studying seminars and conferences since 2001.
Penitentiary service of the UGCC is a member of the international community of catholic penitentiary service – International Catholic Commission of Penitentiary Priests Service.
International Charity Foundation “Caritas-Ukraine” is also actively involved in penitentiary service. Workers of “Caritas” provide spiritual, psychological and material help to the imprisoned, especially to women and their children. An integrated approach is applied to solving of the problems of the imprisoned which contributes to the normalization of their lives after completion of their imprisonment term.
However, there are still many things to be done in this field. First steps are made in re-socialization of former prisoners. Rehabilitation centers could decrease to a great extent repetitiveness of crimes, providing gradual socialization of the ex-imprisoned. When the doors of prison are finally opened for prisoners to get out, the new doors – into society – are not always opened. “Nobody needs us there” – say many of those who left prison, and they mean not only family and friends with whom all the contacts were lost during their imprisonment.