The female inmates of Eshowe prison are grateful to have a Holy Childhood Sister helping them in their difficult situation. Over the last year, Sr. Teressa has been guiding the inmates to experience the presence of God in their lives.
One year ago, Sister Teressa decided to volunteer for work with female inmates of Eshowe Correctional Services. Taking on this ministry, she stepped into the shoes of the Mother Foundress of her congregation, Antonia Werr. She worked with female prisoners in Oberzell, Germany, in the 19th century – and in the process formed the Servants of the Holy Childhood of Jesus, who are known as the Holy Childhood Sisters today. Before Sister Teressa made her volunteer work official, she started visiting the prison and attended retreats to prepare herself and also listen to the experiences of other volunteers.
What is her role?
Every Friday, Sr. Teressa does counseling and bible sharing with the women. This programme is not compulsory; instead the women journey with Sister out of their own free will. There are usually more than ten young women who attend these sessions. The inmates are engaging all of the time and are very open about what got them arrested and how they are longing to draw themselves to God again so that they can be better people. The ladies remain positive about life even during this pandemic, “We are thankful to God for being here and saving us as many people are dying”, one of them says. Sr. Teressa continues to attend workshops and services together with jail wardens, police and others who are part of correctional services to show support and pray for one another as they are doing such a heavy job. “I feel that these platforms are important as they are great source of renewal and strength”, she expressed.
As Mother Foundress left the Holy Childhood Sisters with the charism to restore the dignity of those who are viewed as “outcasts” by society, Sister carries out that responsibility to the best of her ability with great love. “I am humbled by the gratitude they communicate for having someone who cares about them”, she says. On Christmas Day, she prepared gift bags for the ladies to show her support. In the course of one year, this new project has become one of Sr. Teressa greatest passions.
Text by: Sr. Maria Machi
Photos by: Daniel Scharnagl