Exorcist priest is new right-hand man in prison ministry

Exorcist priest is new right-hand man in prison ministry

Fr. Nezelle Lirio, incoming executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care. CBCPNEWS

By CBCP News

October 22, 2019

Mania, Philippines

An exorcist priest is taking the helm as right-hand man at the Catholic Church’s prison ministry.

Fr. Nezelle Lirio, 44, will assume the post as executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care on December 1.

He will succeed 70-year-old Rodolfo Diamante, who retired after serving the post for the past 27 years and has been in the prison ministry for 42 years.

Lirio’s appointment was announced during a Mass to mark the Prison Awareness Week at the CBCP chapel in Intramuros, Manila on Oct. 21.

As executive secretary, he will assist Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, who has been heading the prison ministry since 2017.

A priest for the Diocese of Cabanatuan, Lirio has been in the prison ministry for 18 years.

“And it’s very timely that he’s an exorcist with the evils that the prison ministry is facing,” Diamante said.

There are about 182,000 inmates in the country today, about 76 percent of them are detention prisoners who are staying in the city, municipal and provincial jails.

Diamante said the remaining 23 percent are convicted prisoners housed in the seven national penitentiaries.

As far as the prison ministry is concerned, the church has about 86 units of volunteers from different dioceses, with about 20 to 100 volunteers serving in each jail.

There are also about eight chaplains serving the Bureau of Jail and Penology, he added, and five for the Bureau of Corrections.