Last year on the 14th of December, on the occasion of the Day of the Czech Prison Service, 15 new prison chaplains and 19 volunteers were commissioned for service at a ceremonial event. For the first time this was an ecumenical church service held at the church of St Wenceslas in Zderaz, Prague, which used to serve as the New Town penitentiary in the 19th century. The new chaplains took an oath before the general secretary of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, Stanislav Přibyl, and the chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, Daniel Ženatý.
Pastoral Care in Prisons is a supra-confessional association striving to provide well-balanced and educated spiritual and pastoral care in prisons and custodial prisons. The representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and the Czech Bishops’ Conference have therefore concluded a contract with this association, based on which only experienced priests and laymen who are well acquainted with the ecumenical environment and the specific conditions of prison facilities are to be entrusted with spiritual and pastoral care. The Pastoral Care in Prisons association organises training courses and interdisciplinary seminars for new members and also provides for their further education. All three contractual parties consider it necessary that the candidates for chaplaincy service go through a one-year training period, as volunteers carrying out spiritual and pastoral care in prisons, before actually starting the job. The signing of the contract underlines the unique character of ecumenical spiritual care in Czech prisons, carried out in cooperation between 13 churches.
The contract was signed on 14 December 2017 by the chairman of the Pastoral Care in Prisons association, Pavel Zvolánek, the authorised bishop of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, Josef Kajnek, and the chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, Daniel Ženatý.