Gottfried Locher to celebrate Christmas at Forensics Therapy Center in Rheinau

Gottfried Locher, Council President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, will celebrate Christmas with patients of the Center for In-Patient Forensic Therapy in Rheinau.

Especially inside the center’s high-security ward, tensions will rise as the holidays approach. For many patients in the preventive detention and treatment program, it’s difficult having to spend Christmas away from family, relatives and friends. That’s why the Rheinau Center was all the more delighted when Gottfried Locher confirmed that he would join them for a Christmas celebration in usual circumstances.

“We really appreciate that a church representative from Bern will come to visit us,” says Herbert Hofer, the Center‘s Director of Healthcare. “At our Center in Rheinau, both our patients in preventive detention and our staff face a lot of challenges.  The patients are men and women with a severe mental disorders who have committed a criminal offense.  Often, the patterns of disorder are very complex. The priority is on therapeutic treatment. The fact that someone is interested in our very specific situation and even will spend Christmas here makes us very happy!”

Gottfried Locher will read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and emphasize the fact that the patients are not alone, that there are people praying for them and feeling connected to them. Pastor Carola Jost will lead the congregation in singing Christmas carols and tell a story of joy and hope, and the stars that bring hope. Everyone will be invited to express a wish for the New Year.  Those wishes will be written on paper stars and pasted to the windows, so that the stars will continue to shine over the course of the following days.

The FSPC President acknowledges that “Christmas should be celebrated everywhere, even in prisons and in this hospital.  It’s a good thing that pastors have such uncomplicated access to institutions like this in Switzerland. Our churches provide an important service to the people here. In Rheinau, the pastors can move freely around the ward and start a conversation with anyone.”

But Gottfried Locher will not only come with good words: he will also bring individual presents and a Christmas candle for the community room.

Department of Special Pastoral Care of the Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich.

With roughly 40 pastorates, the Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich ensures the provision of pastoral care in special life situations: in hospitals, mental institutions, nursing centers and prisons.

Center for In-Patient Forensic Psychiatry, Zurich Psychiatric University Hospital, Rheinau Branch

Evangelisch-reformierte Landeskirche des Kantons Zürich