Catholic Sister in Ivory Coast Working to Lift Spirit of Prisoners in Harsh Conditions

Sr. Monique Lorrain. Credit: La Xavière Institute

For 12 years, Sr. Monique Lorrain has been visiting Korhogo prison in the North of Ivory Coast twice a week, giving hope to inmates who she says are living in harsh conditions.

The member of La Xavière Institute, Missionaries of Christ Jesus, has told the information service of Propaganda Fides, Agenzia Fides, that among challenges that prisoners face at Korhogo prison is congestion and total isolation from the rest of the society.

“Since 2009 I have been visiting the Korhogo prison in the north of Ivory Coast twice a week, where little by little a pastoral care for the spiritual accompaniment of the prisoners has developed,” Sr. Monique says in the Tuesday, March 29 report by Agenzia Fides.

She adds, “There are currently 450 people in this prison, designed for 100 prisoners. Around 180 of them live and sleep crammed into a huge cell, and you can imagine the conditions in which they live.” 

The Catholic Nun says that over the years, she has been visiting prisoners and speaking to them about the path of faith as a path to authentic liberation.


“Among the large Muslim majority, there are about fifty Christians from different churches among the prisoners,” Sr. Monique says, and adds in reference to the prisoners, “Many of them have started a real journey of faith since they have been in prison. They were drawn to the witness of the small Christian community here. In each cell, they pray together every morning.”

The member of La Xavière Institute, Missionaries of Christ Jesus, said that before the pandemic, she went to a prayer meeting once a week where the prisoners shared with the group what God was doing in their hearts.

“The light of the gospel illuminated their (prisoners) questions. The meetings ended with a short Eucharistic prayer, and after that the few baptized Catholics were allowed to receive the bread of the Eucharist. It is amazing that some of them say: 'This morning I woke up with a happy heart!' Yes, the grace of God is offered in the trial of detention!” Sr. Monique tells Agenzia Fides in the March 29 report.

She adds, “We see how the Holy Spirit works within these walls… And how great was the joy when the prisoners once gave me an envelope with a sum of money at the end of Lent. It was their Lenten offer to donate to the needy who live outside.”

The Catholic Nun tells the information service of Propaganda Fide that since the pandemic began in March 2020, prisoners have been barred from any contact with the outside world as a health measure.

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“We try to keep the connection between the prisoners and their families through the exchange of letters,” the Catholic Missionary Nun has previously worked in Chad and Cameroon as a nutritionist for malnourished children and as a caregiver for alcoholic adults says.

She adds that members of her community have been working to raise awareness among the Parishes of the Catholic Archdiocese of Korhogo to donate a meal for all prisoners at Christmas and Easter.

“This (donation) is a very important sign for them,” Sr. Monique says, and adds, “The isolation that adds to the harshness of imprisonment is also a test for us, the counseling group, because if this mission keeps us in touch with the harsh reality of evil, these prisoners are also the ones who deeply evangelize us and make us privileged witnesses of God’s action in them.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.