(Laya Victoria, Head Coordinator-NBP, CFC-FFL Ministry for Restorative Justice)
Enrico Ponon with Prison Number N203P2117 died last 15 September 2011, after vomiting blood at the NBP Hospital. He died at the age of about 72. He was one of the first batch of prisoners who joined CFC about 8 years ago in 2003. He was one of our characters in “Stories from Prison”(page 27), who received no visit from his relatives who live just in nearby Antipolo Rizal.
So why is Enrico Ponon very important to the Prison Ministry? It is his kind of life story that the Ministry meets every Saturday and continues to care for. Having had no visit from his relatives and friends for more than 8 years until his death, Enrico tirelessly wrote letters to his family through his inmate brothers. You see, Enrico is no-read-no-write. He depended on other prison brothers to write his letters. We knew this, and we never failed to mail his letters.
Last year, Enrico was transferred to the Medium Security Compound. There the conditions are worst. Enrico lost his voice. Early this year he got very sick and was brought to the NBP Hospital, inside the Maximum Security Compound. Lucky for Enrico, the Ministry’s Saturday Feeding Program for the sickly, the elderly, the physically challenged, and the ‘Tawid Dagat’ has already been extended to patient-members confined at the NBP Hospital. Enrico was fed and taken cared of until his health slightly improved.
A week or two before his death, Enrico regained his voice and hesitantly shared during a General Assembly. It was his first and last sharing. As if sensing that death was close by, he thanked the presence of CFC-FFL in prison—for their constant care for prisoners like him. His expression of gratitude to the Community was very uplifting. But the most encouraging information we received was that Enrico was able to go to confession and communion before he died. The presence of our Brother Inmate Lay Ministers in coordination with a new Catholic Group operating in the Hospital made this possible. We will surely miss his laughter and big smile whenever he greets us from the moment we enter the prison gates.
It is true that there are times when weariness threatens our spirit to turn about and seek rest from work—even just for a moment. God’s vineyard seems so vast and the work so many. But it is brother inmates like Enrico who encourages us to be still and remain steadfast in service. There are also times when we ask ourselves…”until when?” The Angel of God tells us when.
“Go give to the needy sweet Charity’s bread. For giving is living”, the Angel said.
“And must I be giving again and again?” My peevish petulant answer ran.
“Oh no!” said the Angel, piercing through.
“Just give till the Master stops giving to you.”
And so it is at this point that we join Enrico in thanking all CFC-FFL members who continuously support the work inside NBP. Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat!
Also, we thank God for His priceless gift of your support to the Ministry. (2 Corinthians 9:15)