Share This Post


The Evangelist I Never Expected…

The Evangelist I Never Expected…

As we prepared to enter the prison facility, I could easily sense the awkwardness and bewilderment of the prison staff wondering what in the world a group of Priests, religious and laity are up to. Even more, was the staff’s curiosity of what they did not realize was Jesus Christ being carefully housed in a lunula and covered with Fr. Roger Landry’s humeral veil and chasuble. With great care, we processed into the religious services building where inmates would attend religious services, bible studies, Catechism classes, receive spiritual direction, and attend Mass every Sunday for Catholic inmates. 

There was visible excitement from the inmates who had the opportunity to serve at Mass with Bishop Fernandes and Fr. Roger Landry. I could see from their facial expression that today was to provide a spiritual reprieve from the daily walk of prison life. As men continued to enter the auditorium in preparation for Mass and Holy Hour, several made a straight line to the confessionals in the back of the auditorium. There was no need to urge these men to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, they knew exactly what they were walking into, a sincere penitent who eagerly desired to be forgiven and loved by His Father.

One of the first men who took advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation was a burly individual, I will call him Rich who did not hesitate to receive the healing salve of Jesus Christ. As the line for confession began to subside there was an opportunity to listen to personal testimonies. The pilgrims who had traveled as part of the Eucharistic Pilgrimage provided a summary of their journey and personal testimony of how the pilgrimage had impacted their lives which the inmates respectfully tried to relate to. As the next missionary was preparing to offer her testimony, I asked my colleague who had ministered to the inmates for some time if there was an inmate who would be willing to give his testimony. He emphatically said “yes” and immediately approached one of the inmates who expressed his reservation about sharing his story, he then went to plan B which through God’s grace was plan A.

As Rich walked up to give his testimony, everyone present was in disbelief that he was about to talk about his life and his path to Jesus Christ. Rich’s life was less than admirable revealing the loss of his eight-month-old son to adoption because of his deviant lifestyle at the time. He described how his view of life was both ignorant and indifferent toward people fueling his sinful habits. At one point, he described how both his brother and father were incarcerated in the same prison with him. He told everyone that he had been baptized Catholic, went to Mass with his mother, and was taught the Catechism which made his downward turn in life more real.

However, something remarkable happened as Rich began to describe the value of the Catechism in his life. He bluntly stated that the only way we are going to understand how he came back to Jesus Christ was through the example of the lives of the saints in his life. Knowing his audience, understanding the nature of his life, and realizing the significance of his witness of faith to his fellow brothers, he began to describe his first encounter with St. Therese of Lisieux, or as he preferred to call her the Little Flower. It was through an introduction to the Little Flower at one of his lowest points that he read her Little Way. He described how he miraculously received a white rose seemingly out of nowhere not knowing the association of the rose with St. Therese. As he tried to rehabilitate his life, he kept reading everything he could find on St Therese and her little way, Rich provided one of the most loving explanations of the Little Flower that I had ever heard speaking of St. Therese with great reverence and humility that everyone in the multipurpose room had his attention. He mentioned how his mother had urged him to stop getting into trouble as this would displease St. Therese.

Toward the end of his testimony, Rich expressed the profound effect St. Therese had in his life to return the sacraments and serve as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. With the humility of a repentant sinner, Rich had no problem describing his spiritual fall and spiritual resuscitation. He was grateful that Christ had given him a second chance through the intercessory prayers of St. Therese the Little Flower, she saved his life. Rich left us with a final thought that encapsulated his entire testimony and that everyone needed to hear, he reminded us that surrendering to Jesus requires a death to self and a renunciation of all evil. The unassuming prisoner who stood up to give his testimony ended up being the Evangelist I never expected, a gift that no one present would ever forget.

The Catechism in quoting St. Therese provides us with an important reminder of the need to die to ourselves and live for Jesus Christ,

After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone.… In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.[1]


[1] CCC 2011, taken from the Act of Offering in the Story of A Soul, p. 277

Services MarketplaceListings, Bookings & Reviews

Entertainment blogs & Forums

Share This Post

Leave a Reply