Prisoner finds redemption building confessionals for WYD

confessionals built for WYD

A few days before his release from a six-year prison sentence for drug trafficking, Pedro Silva, along with four other prisoners, built 50 confessionals for WYD (World Youth Day) 2023.

“I realised that God was always with me. He doesn’t give up on us, so we can’t lose hope,” he said with the smile of someone who believes he is about to start a new life.

WYD 2023 will take place in Lisbon, Portugal, from Aug 1–6 and Pope Francis will attend during the event.

The initiative to involve prisoners in building the confessionals was a collaboration between the WYD Lisbon 2023 Foundation and the Directorate-General for Reintegration and Prison Services.

Prisoners constructed a total of 150 confessionals across three Portuguese prisons. The aim was to provide inmates with valuable professional skills and promote their reintegration into society.

Pope to hear confessions

The confessionals will be located in “Reconciliation Park,” a designated area in the Belém district of Lisbon, where pilgrims from all over the world will have the opportunity to confess and seek reconciliation. Pope Francis himself will hear confessions in the park on the morning of 4  August.

Upon learning of Silva’s desire to contribute to the project, the WYD Local Organising Committee was thrilled to include him.

“We are very interested in complying with his wishes, and we will take all the necessary steps so that he can participate in the setting up of the confessionals,” assured the WYD Lisbon 2023 Foundation spokeswoman, Rosa Pedroso Lima.

The confessionals, fabricated from recycled wood provided by the JMJ Lisboa 2023 Foundation, are a simple and elegant design. Silva worked alongside a fellow inmate who was an experienced carpenter and taught him carpentry skills in the prison workshop.

Project a positive impact on inmates

Orlando Carvalho, the director of the Coimbra Prison, expressed his pride in the institution’s involvement in the confessional project. He emphasised the transformative power of such initiatives, citing the positive impact on inmates’ lives.

Carvalho believes that providing prisoners with meaningful experiences and opportunities for social reintegration is crucial. He called for more projects like this, stating that society should support and empower inmates rather than casting them aside.

Silva affirmed the project’s financial aspect also motivated him. “When I found out that we were going to receive 10 euros a day, I immediately thought that it would be a good help so that, when I was released, I wouldn’t be so dependent on my family,” he said.


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