|Palm Sunday in prison - Apr 19|
|2009 - Features|
|Wednesday, 15 April 2009 14:53|
On Palm Sunday some of the members of the prison secretariat visited the Port of Spain prison on Frederick St. I was told to be there for 11.30 a.m., only to find out that Mass was scheduled for 1.00 p.m. I found that conditions were a little better than when I used to visit there some years ago: some padded chairs are now provided in the waiting room.
The choir from La Romaine arrived at 12.18 and by 12.50 we were ushered into what the programme identified as the “Convicted Exercise Yard” for the Mass. A tent had been erected with an altar and there were several potted plants around. The pillars were wrapped with green and yellow strips. The Correctional Education Programme Department, which was responsible for the programme (emblazoned at the bottom of two pages with Men of Justice – referring to the inmates I hope?) had obviously made some effort to make this a special occasion.
We were seated on plush red chairs at the front with the inmates behind on more Spartan accommodation.
The choir provided some jumpy songs of praise and some of the Living Water members present showed some mean (Carnival-educated?) hip movements in accompaniment. There were also some pigeons in attendance but I can’t testify as to their enjoyment of the choir.
I looked around and saw what I hope were not the windows of some cells: they were barely one foot square with space for just two bars. I saw a pigeon entering one! Some other windows were one foot by three with about six bars. A couple of other windows could hardly have been cells: they were about three feet wide by about eight or nine high with a semicircular top.
Fr Robert Christo preaches during the Palm Sunday Mass at the Port of Spain prison
Soon after 1 p.m. Fr Christo arrived, resplendent in red vestments. After Easter greetings from Prison Supervisor Martin Boodram Mass began with the very apposite Enter Into Jerusalem.
During the first reading from Isaiah one could discern noises coming from what must be a recreation room: there was the sound of a bouncing ping pong ball.
Fr Christo’s homily was a spirit-filled, passionate appeal to the inmates (and us) to refuse to follow the Jews who could so readily change from “Hosannas” to “Crucify Him” a few days later.
He emphasised several times that the bread and wine were not mere symbols but had been transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.
He must have given a little scare though to the prison officers present, when he had the prisoners repeat several times after him “I will kill them,” until he completed: “with love”.
While some inmates were going up for communion I thought one of them had found a unique place to store his palm branch: wrapped around his calf!
For the meditation we were treated to the inmates’ band with Sing Out My Soul and the very jumpy Lord I Lift Your Name On High.
After Mass ended Programme Coordinator Prison Officer II, Graham Potter, gave a vote of thanks.
Soon after 2.45 we filed out to a jumpy medley of Sing Hosanna and Never Get Weary Yet to be escorted by two officers to a room near the entrance where we enjoyed a snack pack while the inmates enjoyed theirs in their yard.- Eurico Jardim________________________________________________________________________________________ **DISCLAIMER**: User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Camsel/Catholic News or its staff. Camsel/Catholic News accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments. Please help us keep our site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option. Camsel/Catholic News reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed. Before posting, please refer to the Comments Policy under Resources