Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, visited Feltham Young Offenders Institution just outside of London yesterday to celebrate Mass for inmates during Prisons Week.
In his homily, the Italian nuncio urged the audience to “waste a little time on prayer” every day.
Reminiscing on his childhood, Archbishop Mennini said: “When I was young, I remember how often my mother used to watch from the window of our apartment, when all I wanted to do was play football, daydream or chat with my friends, and she would call to me and remind me that I needed to study and that I should stop wasting my time.
“Her words have stayed with me till now but, in a different context, I should like to suggest that you should deliberately try to waste a little time each day – waste it with God in quiet prayer,” he said.
“It is this way you will come to know ever more deeply his love for you and discover ‘the will of his Father in heaven’.”
The archbishop presented himself as a “representative of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI” who himself visited a prison near Rome during the Holy Season of Lent this year.
Addressing the difficulties faced by the inmates, the archbishop applauded the chaplains for their “help and encouragement” during a “difficult but very challenging and hopeful time in your lives. The task is an important and very worthwhile one.”
He concluded by asking the congregation to “please pray for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI and for me, his representative, and be assured that I will pray for you too”.
The Mass was celebrated on the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.