Prison ministry sets chaplain free

Jwan Kada (ACBC)

For Melbourne youth prison chaplain Jwan Kada, the life-giving freedom of Jesus Christ can be found in every prison cell. Source: ACBC Media Blog.

Reflecting on her vocation in the lead-up to Prison Sunday this weekend, the 33-year-old former Iraqi refugee is living her Catholic faith well outside the four walls of her close-knit Chaldean community.

“This ministry sets me free,” Ms Kada said of the personal rewards gained while helping disengaged and abandoned youth in detention.

Inspired by Pope Francis’ aspiration of a Church working in the community, the Catholic Regional College Sydenham teacher’s personal life journey helps her to connect with the young men she visits.

“I left Iraq in 1996. I was 11. We left because my dad passed away and mum was alone with four young children. I was one of them,” she recalled.

Settling into Australia with no income was initially challenging, but Ms Kada and her family made it through and are eternally grateful for the support from their Chaldean community.

After being heavily involved in the community throughout her teens and early adult life, she studied a master of arts, specialising in theology. She travelled to the United States to discern religious life, but found another vocation where she thought she could make a difference – teaching.

However, it was in youth detention, ministering to disengaged young men aged 12 to 18, where she found her true calling.

“I wanted a radical ministry. I went to Parkville Youth Justice Centre in Melbourne and I just fell in love with it. I visited at Christmas and from that first moment it felt like I was set free,” Ms Kada said.

“I really enjoy working with young people and that’s why I chose teaching. They really showed me who God is and what the Church can be.

“I felt I could find the Church in a prison – it doesn’t have to be just a building. What also attracted me to prison chaplaincy is Pope Francis’ vision of a humble, merciful Church.”

Details: Prison Sunday


Prison chaplain finds Jesus in every cell (ACBC Media Blog

Chaplaincy across the Youth Justice Custodial Centres in Malmsbury and Parkville, Victoria is a ministry of CatholicCare Melbourne, Gippsland and Greater Geelong. Jwan Kada is a valued member of the Volunteer team known as “Fusion” which is based at the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre, Parkville. Jwan is supported and supervised by Chaplain, Melanie Edwards MGL. Chaplaincy provision at the Youth Justice Centre in Malmsbury is headed by Jule Harris. For more information, go to


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