PFC Christmas Playlist

img_2782“You don’t want to hear me sing!” Dawn (Not her real name)  exclaimed after I asked her to join us in Christmas Caroling.  But since she was from Canada and she knew the songs we planned to sing, we needed her to help with the other foreign women who did  not know the songs as well.  She eventually agreed…reluctantly.

It was Christmas Eve, and four missionaries from the São Paulo Prison Pastoral and Maryknoll Lay Missioners were visiting the incarcerated women at PFC and we sang Christmas songs with them.  My prison visiting partner (an Irish Sister named Ann) and I  brought about eight song books with us and as we passed them out to the 15 or so women from around the world that gathered with us, I was struck by the uniqueness of the moment.  The girls were from Singapore, Philippines, Germany, France, South Africa, Netherlands, Russia, and other African countries.  There were a couple of giggles as we began the singing.  Most did not know all the songs but when when we began to sing Silent Night they all jumped in and sang beautifully.

Here was our PFC Christmas Playlist:

  1. O Come, All Ye Faithful
  2. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
  3. O Holy Night!
  4. O Little Town of Bethlehem
  5. Silent Night
  6. Joy to the World

Our small choir probably would not win any prizes but of course Dawn sang the loudest and beautifully and at the same time she helped us to teach the other girls these favorite English-language songs.  When we were finished, I noticed Dawn sitting by herself on the cold concrete bench continuing to thumb through the small Christmas Carol book.  She had a tear in her eye and I couldn’t tell for sure but I thought I heard her humming as she read the other songs.

As you sing these songs this Christmas season, please think about and pray for the women in PFC.  Thank you especially to Dawn.



Christmas Mass in PFC

Today, Maryknoll Lay Missioners participated in a beautiful Christmas Mass with 50 women prisoners in PFC (São Paulo’s Prison for Foreign and Brazilian women.) The mass was given by a Peruvian priest and the liturgy was said in three different languages; Spanish, English, and Portuguese. (I even spoke some German to a woman from Germany and you should watch while I try to converse with a Hungarian in Portuguese!) In addition to the priest’s Portuguese homily, we read Harry Florentine‘s Fourth Sunday of Advent reflection in English. Thanks Harry! Of course we had our paper Advent Candles too and “lit” the fourth candle.

Approaching Christmas, I notice the women becoming more distraught as they ponder another holiday without their families. Its hard to describe the muffled crying you hear during these services but the women were so happy to have this mass today and it lifted their spirits and strengthened their faith and hope. Not all of the women are Catholic but they are all faithful to the spirit of Christ.

As you get closer to Christmas, please keep in mind and pray for the women of PFC. Just some of their names are Wendy, Anelda, Madeleine, Petra, Blaze, Rita, Miraslava, Nenita, Glaiza, Agnes, Daniella, Jean. Thanks to the Pastoral Carceráia for organizing this Mass today.

(The pictures attached are from a previous visit and not today.)