At the Nanaimo Correctional Centre, a provincial jail for adult male offenders, the tradition is to have a Christmas Eve service for the men, sing carols and on Christmas Day the chaplain and possibly a few volunteers walk around to residents and staff and distribute cookies made by a few local Christian schools. For those who are able, a special visit with their children near Christmas is arranged.
For many in the institution it is a particularly sad and poignant time so we spend extra energy seeing people one on one and hearing their stories. For others it is a happy time as they resolve and look forward with hope never to spend another Christmas in a jail. The tension of these two extremes is challenging and exciting and the light of our Lord and the focus on his birth brings hope and potential to the forefront.
Rev. Lon Towstego
Nanaimo Correctional Centre
Diocese of British Columbia