Every October 10, the world celebrates the World Day against the Death Penalty, a date that invites us to reflect on the importance of abolishing this inhumane practice in every corner of the planet. On this day, we remember those countries that still maintain the death penalty as a form of punishment, and we join in a global call for the abolition of this practice. To better understand the reality of prison life and the work of accompanying inmates, we had the honor of interviewing two Sisters who carry out a crucial mission in our Province of Europe and Province of Africa.
Interview with Sister Lourdes Garcia
What is life like in Manresa Prison?
Manresa Prison, also known as Lledoners, is located about 5 km from Manresa, in the municipality of San Juan de Vilatorrada. This penitentiary center has about 800 to 900 residents, mostly men, and has a nursing module. We are part of a group called SEPAP (Secretariado Pastoral Penitenciaria), affiliated to Pere Casaldáliga’s association.
Life in Lledoners is diverse, and for some, it finds its meaning because of the crimes committed. However, for most, it is personal circumstances and the lack of social alternatives that push them into a dead end. On a daily basis, they carry out work such as baking, cooking, gardening, vegetable gardening, and participate in activities such as primary school, language, gymnastics and computer classes.
What is your accompaniment work with the interns?
My work of accompaniment is simple but significant: to be present, to listen, to welcome and to respect. The interns greatly appreciate this time dedicated exclusively to them. I try to find positive aspects in their words, discovering their possibilities and values, as well as promoting a vision of forgiveness and love of God. Sometimes, a simple “how are you?” makes them feel valued. These hours are true moments of God’s grace.
What do people who are deprived of their liberty teach you?
People deprived of their freedom teach me a lot. Despite losing contact with their families, friends and loved ones, and facing the loss of many things, they do not lose hope, at least not all of them. Some are grateful for this situation as an opportunity to mature, to grow as individuals, to get out of themselves, to think of others and to discover God, Jesus and Mary, the Mother. Our Mother Joaquima is also present in their lives, and they call me “Vedruna”, which is a gift. They teach me that small things have immense greatness.
On this day when we remember countries that maintain the death penalty, what can you tell us?
The death penalty is the most inhumane and unacceptable thing in existence. No matter how serious a crime, everyone has glimmers of goodness and the ability to change their behavior. Prisons are not places for re-education or social reintegration. I am completely against the death penalty and I believe that society should stand up against this practice more forcefully. We must promote alternatives that allow for the rehabilitation of those who have made mistakes and give them the opportunity to reform and contribute positively to society.
Sister Rita Ada’s video testimony
In addition to the interview with Sister Lourdes Garcia, we also want to share the video testimony of Sister Rita Ada, who will talk about her mission in different areas, including the reality of prison. His experience complements the valuable work of accompaniment in the prison system and reminds us of the importance of compassion and redemption in the justice system.
On this World Day Against the Death Penalty, let us reflect on the need to advocate for the abolition of this practice and for the positive transformation of those who have made mistakes in their lives. The work of people like Sister Lourdes and Sister Rita Ada inspires us to continue working for a more just and humane world.