“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:
- O Come, All Ye Faithful
- O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
- O Holy Night!
- O Little Town of Bethlehem
- Silent Night
- 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.