Since the spring of 2007, I was a volunteer at the Edmonton Institution for Women (prison) meeting with an inmate about twice a month as a companion. Due to community circumstances and the fact that my mentee would soon be released from the prison, I retired from this ministry in October, 2018.
‘Towards the margins…”
An invitation to move out of ourselves.
The Volunteer Coordinator at the prison invited me to attend the Volunteer Recognition Night on April 17, 2019, for one last time. I was called up to the podium and asked to say a few words about my experience as a volunteer: “When I first heard about this prison ministry I felt called to respond. I mentored ten women over a period of 11 ½ years. I enjoyed our time together, whether we played games or just talked. I know it was good for me and I hope it was also helpful to these ladies. I felt privileged coming tonight and I thank you.”
The blanket is given to honor persons who have contributed.
Then I was singled out for a very special gift. I was given a Star Blanket made by some of the aboriginal inmates. Originally the blankets were made to wrap their dead before burial. Later they were given as gifts at weddings, and now they are given to honour persons who have contributed to the good of the community. I was very surprised by this honour and grateful for this beautiful blanket.
“Each time you did this to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40)
My experience with each woman was good. I believe our relationships were helpful. They could be listened to by someone who had no authority over them, who did not judge them and could give them some unconditional love. On the other hand, they in their own way also ministered to me. When I could see how they forgave themselves and moved forward towards a new life, I was challenged to let go of past hurts and to forgive myself and move on too. I also had the opportunity to practice non-judgmental listening and unconditional love. I regretted leaving this ministry but I felt it was time to do so given my other responsibilities in the community.
Georgine Morin, fj, Edmonton, Canada