As an agent of Pastoral Caritas Ecuador, in agreement with the Foundation for Reconciliation, I have participated with Sister Mariana de Jesus Oñate, Dominican Missionary of the Rosary, teaching the School of Forgiveness and Reconciliation (ESPERE), with 10 people in the process of social reintegration, in the Province of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, these people were imprisoned for different crimes.

When they finally get a benefit to return to society to serve their sentence, they are marginalized, with few opportunities to reintegrate into the labor and social sphere and often even their families reject them. Being witnesses of this sad reality as members of a missionary church, we try to bring a breath of peace and love through processes and personal tools of forgiveness and reconciliation, which can help them in moments of difficulty or setback.

We have assumed a dream of God, as our mission with these people, God’s most loved people, who are living the perils of  prisons where violence is experienced to the maximum, becoming inhumane places of arms trade, drugs, kidnappings, organized crime, torture and death that leave physical and emotional sequels in these people.

In the face of these inhumane events and remembering the words of our Lord Jesus when he says. I was in prison and they came to see me (Mt. 25:36) and the moving words of Pope Pius XII to the youngest detainees at Christmas 1951. In addressing them he defines them more as victims than as culprits. And he emphasizes the need for quality education and the responsibility of the different social actors in order to reverse a social model linked to corruption, which today we could also call exclusion.

Inspired by the life of Our Father St. Dominic who said: “I do not want to study in dead skins, while there are people dying of hunger” with this Dominican charism that challenges us to frontier places, I ventured to dive into the deep waters of this reality that for me until then was distant.

This experience of teaching ESPERE with Sister Mariana, has been very gratifying to see and feel the receptivity and active participation of the 10 members in the process and to see the progress in each one of them in the different modules taught, we remember with pleasure the first module when comparing it with the last one, The first one was lived with incredulity thinking that forgiveness is a utopia and much less reconciliation with the offended party or offender expressed with their apathetic body language, and in the end recognizing that it is possible through forgiveness and reconciliation that will not change their past but will change their future, with restorative justice. As Dominicans we will have the opportunity to say, Lord, when did we see you in prison and come to you? And He will answer us when they did it to one of my little ones, they did it to me (cf. Mt 25, 39-40).

Carlos José Rodríguez Moreno

Lay Dominican

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