Jesus fraternity is a ministry mainly meant for the reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners. Carmelgiri seminary also has a unit of Fraternity. Prison pilgrimage, prison visiting and prayer for the conversion of prisoners are the chief aims of it.Each Friday all the members of the fraternity group gather in the chapel and pray for prisoners and jail wardens. Every Sunday we visit Alwaye Sub Jail and offering Mass for the prisoners. During the vacation we go for the prison pilgrimage.
We had a talk on the prison ministry by one of the founders of this ministry, Fr. Varghese Karippery.
This year we visited five jails of Kottayam zone from October 4th to 8th. We were twelve Seminarians with Fr. Augustine Kadeparambil, the Director of Carmelgiri Unit. During the pilgrimage we visited Snehasramams (house where the children of prisoners are taken care of), old age homes and many educational institutions.
When we visited the prisons we could perform some cultural programmes to entertain them. By our visit we want to make them aware that there are some people who love them and pray for them. We visit the schools just for saying that we should love and pray for the prisoners. Before commencing the pilgrimage we had the preparation for one month that includes prayer session, sharing of the experiences, practice of cultural programmes etc.
The pilgrimage was an enriching moment for us and it gave new insights for our future ministry. We could give a new hope for the prisoners and motivate the students to change their attitude towards prisoners.
“The church’s spiritual tradition basing itself on Christ’s own words (Cf. Mt 25,26), has designated the visiting of prisoners as one of the corporal works of Mercy. Prisoners have a particular need to be visited personally by the Lord in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Experiencing the closeness of the ecclesial community, sharing in the eucharist and receiving holy communion of this difficult and painful time can surely contribute to the quality of a prisoners’ faith journey and to full social rehabilitation. Taking up the recommendation of the synod, I ask Dioceses to do whatever is possible to ensure that sufficient pastoral resources are invested in the spiritual care of prisoners”. Pope Benedict XVI Sacramentum Caritatis
Jesus Fraternity began in a prayer group at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, Kerala. On 8th September 1989 this ecclesial movements was recognized by the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Conference and on 24th August 2000 by the Catholic Bishop’s conference of India, having a Bishop its chairman. Jesus Fraternity today has a national centre in Bangalore with a national director, staff, Publications, periodicals and has more than 5000 members from among priests, religious, sisters and lay people. Most of the priestly training centers in India have units of Jesus Fraternity. It has 25 rehabilitation centers all over India run by different religious congregations, and a research and documentation centre in Trissur, Kerala.
Jesus Fraternity is primarily a fraternity, where sisters and brothers, whether they are Bishops, Priests, Women or Man religious or lay people, live together as one family with “Equality, Fraternity, liberty and responsibility”. This fraternity is based on the fraternity of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and is extended to prisoners, prostitutes, street children, beggers, drugg addicts, AIDS patients as well as to angelsa And saints in heaven. All become one family.
Jesus fraternity as a catholic Christian movement always and everywhere manifests its catholic nature. In matters related to morality and faith it always follows catholic teachings. At the same time, it is all embracing, welcoming the lost irrespective of cast, creed and colour. Who are not least among us? We all are lost, we all are last and we all are leat. Hence the Jesus Fraternity spirituality is an all embracing spirituality for the entire universe.
The basic cell of the Jesus Fraternity is prayer group whose members have committed themselves to the integral spiritual renewal of the lost sheep. Its members pray, fast, go in search and work for the integral redemption of the lost, the leat and the last as the good shepherd. The Holy Eucharist, Holy Bible, and Divine Office are their basic spiritual sources and table of nourishment. Every day Jesus Fraternity members drink, eat and are strengthened from them. Its members make use of the following prayer methods. Chain Rosary, fraternity, prayer, peace prayer, praise and worship, prayer before the blessed sacrament, prayer for prisoners, prayer of abandonment etc., when they are on the prison ministry, that is during their missionary journeys.
There in our Seminary Fraternity group is guided and well directed by Rev. Fr. Augustine John. We conduct fraternity prayer on Fridays. During the least October Holiday we had our Jail Pilgrimage to Kollam. Together with Fr. Director there were twelve members who made the missionary journey to Kollam, Kottarakkara and Mavelikkara. Also they conducted “awareness Programms” in schools, Colleges, other institutions. They all shared their wonderful experiences.
On this occasion we place on record our indebtedness to our respected Fr. Rector and to all those fathers and brothers who assisted us in conducting this Mission. Above all we thank the Lord of Jesus fraternity for His continuous inspiration to do this mission. “praise, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honour, power and strength to our God for ever and ever (Rev. 7,12).
Br. Jijo Jose