Sunday of the Prodigal Son in the UGCC - Day of pastoral care and prayer for prisoners
"If each Greek Catholic community in Ukraine and abroad, at least once a year, visits the nearest prison, this will revive the parish communities and will enrich the church life of each of them, as, for example, it is done by the communities of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker over the grave of St. Askold in Kiev, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Chernihiv, of the Holy Pratulyn martyrs in Berezhany and by the Arch-Cathedral communities of Chortkiv and Ivano-Frankivsk" – commented, on the necessity for the day of pastoral care over the prisoners, Fr. Constantine Panteley, who is responsible for the cooperation of the UGCC with the penitentiary system of Ukraine.
In the summer of 2010, the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church made an announcement about the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, that, according to the liturgical calendar, always takes place two weeks before the start of Lent, the Day of special attention of the UGCC towards the prison ministry (the pastoral care and the prayer for prisoners, for all those victims of crime and for the employees of the State penitentiary Service of Ukraine). It was decided to conduct, in the dioceses of the UGCC, the collecting of donations for the needs of the prison chaplaincy, as this important ministry is in need of the proper support. In 2013, this Day will be on the 3rd of March.
According to statistical data of the 2013, regarding the number of prisoners per population of 100 thousand people, Ukraine takes the 5th place in Europe. The majority of people were convicted of acquisitive crimes against private property - theft, robbery, extortion; in the second place - "for the drugs", in the third one – people convicted of murder. A large number of our fellow citizens have had the experience of being "behind bars". Nowadays, on the other side of society, there appears to be more than 145 thousand people. Amid the reform of the judiciary system and the changes in social policy, of great importance is becoming the service of the Church within the prison.
The problem of crime cannot be solved only through force methods without fostering the solidarity and the co-responsibility. Therefore, any effort, of our whole society, is not enough, in order to find and to implement all possible alternatives to the sentences in captivity.
The present-day mission of the UGCC within prisons is conducted in an atmosphere of fraternal concelebration with the representatives of other Christian Churches and denominations. It is conducted on the basis of social partnership, in cooperation with the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine as based on an updated agreement. While recognizing the profound respect towards the job of the Penitentiaries, who, in difficult conditions, perform highly significant social mission, it is needed that the competent authorities pays more attention towards the changes in the sphere of criminal justice and allocates more funds for the necessity to educate youth.
Prison Pastoral of the UGCC