La Plata, Argentina, Jul 8, 2016 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).

A local bishop in Argentina blessed a statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, which had been recently painted by inmates at Batán prison. The statue, located next to the prison warden’s office, was blessed at a June 24 ceremony with Bishop Antonio Marino of Mar del Plata.

“Make us who enjoy the gift of freedom instruments of peace, unity, mercy, tolerance and justice to our brothers deprived of freedom. Implore your Divine Son for the power of the Holy Spirit for us to become humble messengers of your love,” Bishop Marino prayed before the statue of the Virgin, which he then sprinkled with holy water.

The bishop's visit took place on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the prison. Also attending the ceremony were officials from Buenos Aires; a representative of the Mar del Plata diocese's prison ministry, Sister Helena Kluck; and the chaplain, Father Daniel Climente. Sister Helena gave the prison unit director, major prefect Mario Vapore, a crucifix with words from Pope Francis to the detainees.

“May the prisons not be for punishment but to prepare people to return to society. This is our desire, our faith, that each person can recover, can become a new man. If today we are celebrating 10 years, I'm wondering how many men have left the warden's office and have been able to incorporate back into society, have been able to find work, or continue as the father of the family,” Sister said.

“During this Year of Mercy I want to leave this cross on behalf of the prison ministry. Jesus gave his life for everyone, without exception, you can fall, but you can get back up again, and we can extend a hand. We can lose our focus, say that this one is never going to pick himself up and he fell again and is here, but for God there is no time and he will always reach out his hand,” she added.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.