Prison as a Place of Conversion

Cursillo Popular in Argentina

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SAN NICOLAS, Argentina, SEPT. 16, 2002 ( Prison can keep inmates confined in body but not in soul, judging from the jailhouse conversions in Argentina.

Penal Unit 3, located in the Diocese of San Nicolas, in the province of Buenos Aires, is holding its 14th Cursillo of Prison Spiritual Renewal (CREC). The prison has 400 male inmates and 16 female prisoners.

Father Arnold Clavijo of the parish of San Antonio Ameghino, the prison chaplain, told ZENIT that the Church tries to help them “the best we can, with catechesis, weekly Mass, devotions and material assistance. The bishop visits without fail one or twice a year.”

He said the Cursillo is adapted “from the Cursillos of Christianity, at the end of which there is always a baptism, confirmations, confessions and Communions. The priests of the dioceses who are invited, always respond with generosity, as do the parish communities.”

The Cursillo ends Wednesday with a concelebrated Mass presided over by Bishop Mario Maulión of San Nicolas.

During the three-day Cursillo, a group of women inmates participate in a retreat, held in a different area from the usual, and led by Father Heriberto Sartori and Father Clavijo, the chaplain.

Lay volunteers are available for talks, for communal prayer and for workshops. Priests, volunteers and inmates have meals together during the Cursillo.

Parish communities, youth groups, and ecclesial movements participate in this spiritual endeavor, contributing food as well as material for the Cursillistas’ reflection.

Inmates who participated in CREC last year are also working for the success of the current Cursillo.

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