Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Misfortune Turns into Good Fortune

He spent two and half years in prison for fraud and embezzlement and now is a volunteer in prison pastoral work. Released from prison in 2007, Andrew, now 58, was interviewed recently by the Catholic Times. For ten years, he explained, he worked as a division head for a large corporation. He lived comfortably, not envying anybody. However, he decided to leave and  get into the construction business, which ran into difficulties, and those who had invested in the business were not informed. He admits the business failed because of mistakes stemming from his prideful nature and disregard for the legitimate interests of his investors. His only interest was in doing things his way; that alone, he said, made him happy.

When the prison sentence was given, all his acquaintances left him and problems arose within the family; leading very  close to a divorce from his wife. His life unraveled, and he fell into complete despair.

Prison life for Andrew was hell. He was afraid, found it difficult to eat or sleep and was full of resentment, living in a daze. He wondered if he would be able to keep his sanity in the prison situation. He felt it was a place he didn't deserve to be in.

He soon found, however, that his great misfortune was turning into a blessing. Relating with those who came to the prison to help the inmates, he began to see life through the life of faith he once possessed. Seeing the volunteers coming to help the prisoners with no financial incentive made him reflect on his own life of greed. He had been baptized and married in the Catholic Church but that was the extent of his faith life. 

His thoughts began to change, and he began to see that his life was a mess. Each day he would think of the many things he did wrong and began to repent. A great change took place, and he became involved with the Catholic prisoners who had formed themselves into a community. He was a lector at Mass and became a leader in the community; joy returned to his life.

Andrew, after release from prison Nov. 30, 2007 (coincidentally his name day) went to the nearest church to pray, gave thanks and promised to spend the rest of his life in service to those in prison. He has finished a training program for mission, and is now taking a university course in theology. He has nothing to be proud of from his past, but his own experience in prison has made him a missioner to those who still find prison life only a negative experience. He wants to help them find new reasons to make their lives worth living.