Hakea multifaith centre provides prison ministry to inmates of all beliefs

17 Sep 2020

By Theresia Titus

Joe O’Brien, Prison Chaplain at Hakea Prison in Canning Vale, WA. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

The Archdiocesan Catholic Prison Ministry, in conjuction with the Department of Justice, has opened a new multi-faith worship centre at Hakea Prison, Perth’s maximum-security jail in Canning Vale, WA. 

Officially opened at a ceremony on 27 August, the worship centre was originally a chapel on the east wing of the prison. 

Among the guests were Joe O’Brien, Co-ordinator of Prison Ministry for the Archdiocese of Perth; Charon Ryder, Aboriginal Catholic Council Chairperson, who did the acknowledgment to country; Deputy Superintendent Sean Devereux; Imam Cassim Kolia, who shared his experience of working at Hakea; Rabbi Shalom White; and Martin Loney, Canning Vale College Chaplain.

Mr O’Brien, who has been Hakea Prison Chaplain for the past decade, said the worship centre has been expanded to cater to inmates of non-Catholic beliefs.

A multi-faith centre is now open at Hakea Prison for inmates at Perth’s maximum security jail for male offenders. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

The multi-faith worship centre, he added, was also a way of showing gratitude to other religious leaders who had been willing to support the ministry.

“Well, given that you look at the numbers we are getting out of non-Christians, we have to do something to make them feel included. It is making a dynamic inter-faith environment,” Mr O’Brien told The eRecord.

“We want everyone to know that we are willing to help them, and it was very much to say thank you to those key people from other faiths who have helped us, who are always willing to come and support our work.”

While the role of faith in each person is personal, Mr O’Brien believes faith and ministry are necessary in prison environments.

“What we find is that our role gives prisoners a chance to see that is a fact there is a better way to live through faith,” he continued.

“Many people here have mental health issues, and many people are trying to access faith, some have never been to a Church service, but they kept coming back.

“My role is to help them reconnect with their faith. We have a few baptisms here and all of them are intentional. If you live your life, people see the light, and they want what you have, and that is what chaplaincy is all about,” Mr O’Brien concluded.