With a predilection for those whom the structures of the Church were not touching, the missionaries reached out to various groups who needed a special focus or a particular message.
A group of persons who fitted the category of “most abandoned” were the prisoners. We read about the missionaries ministering to the prisoners as co-operators of Christ the Saviour in the missions of Aix and in Nimes (O.W. VI, n. 186).With the Founder’s particular concern for prisoners in his ministry, one could be justified in assuming that they did this during many missions. Mariusz Suzanne described this ministry during the Aix mission:
They were not afraid to descend into dark cells, to console the unhappy persons that the inflexible justice of men punished with rigorous but necessary severity, and to whom the joys of the holy religion of Jesus Christ are almost unknown. The most successful consolations have crowned their difficult work: the day after the Ascension, forty of them had the happiness of receiving Communion, some even for the first time. An Ethiopian had been baptized, and a Calvinist, after having abjured the errors of his sect, was blessed with the same grace. I do not know what it was, but I was deeply happy to see our Divine Saviour, hasten to relieve the oppressing pains of those unfortunate prisoners by associating Himself with their misery, and giving their poor souls the sweet consolations of love and tender compassion.
These sentiments were reinforced in the evening of the same day when, in the presence of a large crowd, I saw these unhappy prisoners respectfully approach the holy altar and raise a trembling hand to swear inviolable fidelity to God!
A poor convict, who dragged a heavy chain with difficulty, especially excited my compassion. His downcast face, the rags that covered him, the tears he shed in abundance, and the evils he had to suffer showed the stark contrast between religion, which touches the heart and forgives, and the law, which punishes and leads to despair.
M. SUZANNE, «Quelques lettres sur la mission d’Aix», p. 41-43.