Neljapäev, 21. juuni 2018       


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Pekka Viirre was the man who first got the vision of a world wide network of prison chaplains. 
25 years later IPCA has more than 2000 members spread out all over the world.
Pekka Viirre in his home office 2009

Pekka is a priest in the Lutheran Church of Finland, and one of his tasks used to be to support the prison chaplains working in Finland. 

In 1973 a Nordic conference for prison chaplains was arranged in Sweden. Pekka Viirre heard about it and called his Swedish college Allan Robertsson, a Swedish prison chaplain, to ask if he could come. After this first conference 1973, Nordic meetings where arranged every 2nd year in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. 

When Pekka took part to the conference in Denmark 1983,. He asked if Scabdinavian chaplains will have a International Prison Chaplains meeting 1985 to be held in Milan together the UN.s Conference. It was decided that Pekka will start to negotiate and plan this kind of Conference together with Scandinavian prison chaplains and the Lutheran Church of Finland. Pekka was a secretary for pastoral care in the Lutheran Church Government. So he had Contacts to Church bodies from his job.

So Pekka Viirre was asked to arrange another conference, and now it was time to reach out. Pekka had already 1975 participated in a UN conference, the 7th UN conference of crime and treatment of offenders. Now he used all the contacts he had got during the years and the chef of UN.s Crime preventing Office dr. Minoru Shikita sent a telegram to the World Council of Churches and to the Lutheran World Federation asking them to help Pekka to get the needed support. In 1985, 50 prison chaplains from different parts of the world gathered in Bossey, Switzerland, and the 25th August 1985 International Prison Chaplains Association was grounded.

After Bossey conference oit was arranged a European also est-european Prison caplains meeting in Helsinki Kaisankoti. 
During the year 1990 it was arranged second IPCA in Bossey. Then the IPCAII was organiced by Deutshklands Prison cahpalains. There a priest from Israel came and asked if he could become a member of IPCA Europe. First he was met with doubts since Israel is not a part of Europe, but when Pekka Viirre said: "They do have the same Bible", the decision was to welcome the man to join. 
Pekka was faithful to the call he got, to gather prison chaplains so they can be a stronger tool for human rights in the world of incarcerated people, and to give strength to each other in a many times difficult work.

Pekka Viirre was part of the steering committee the first 1985-90 years. He"s now retired 2002 and lives with his wife in a suburb to Helsinki. But his heart and mind has not retired, he is still active, still filled with engagement for human rights, and his heart is still burning for IPCA. 

What had happend if Pekka Viirre had not listen to the call to unite prison chaplains all over the world? Well, maybe God had chosen someone else.. But he didn"t need to do that because Pekka said yes.



Loe: IPCA Workshops (*.pdf)