Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan advised those who want to join the prison ministry to start working with juvenile offenders before moving to adult correction services.
The prelate said it would help them understand prisoners and their rehabilitation and integration back into society.
“I suggest you start with [children in conflict with the law]. It will change all your perspective about prisoners,” said Bishop David.
The acting president of the Catholic bishops’ conference was speaking during the online general assembly of Chaplains and Volunteers in Prison Service on October 24.
He said many young offenders have a history of maltreatment and neglect before they get involved in crimes.
“So I suggest you start with them. You will hear what they went through,” said the bishop.
He added that aspiring prison volunteers can also start with shelters for street children or do missions in slum communities.
Street children are “potential criminals” so helping them is “a good start for our apostolate,” he said.
The online conference was part of the Prison Awareness Week celebration organized by the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care.