This is the first of four excerpts from EWTN’s ‘The Journey Home’ in which interviewer Marcus Grodi allowed ex-convict and convert to The One Holy Catholic Faith to tell his conversion story from protestant to Catholic.
I learned very early that love had to be a factor (in order to help people save their souls) and this was one of the extraordinary events that took place.
When I first started teaching, evangelizing (in prison, as a prisoner) the way I had to do it, is I had to go, I made an appointment with a guy, go to his cell-block, sit down on his rack, teach him (the Catechism) and then I’d go somewhere else and I’d spend my day keep doing that. I was fortunate enough to be in a prison job where I could do that… I wasn’t cheating anybody; I had that time.
And, a disturbing thing was happening. After a guy had gone through three, maybe four lessons, (he’d say:) ‘I don’t want to do this anymore Ford. Forget it!’
I couldn’t understand what was going on.
Then something extraordinary happened…
Every morning… they would run everbody out to the yard so that the cell-block cleaners could clean the cell-block.
And, during inclement weather, they would send us to the gymnasium.
And I was in the habit every morning of doing my meditation during that hour and a half break…
But, this particular day it was inclement weather and they had us in the gym and…
The Penitentiary is run on noise.
Noise is the number one staple in prison.
And, I learned how to get passed it and still do my meditation but that particular day I couldn’t focus for anything.
And I’m paying attention to what’s going on around me:
there’s a group of guys over here aaah, bragging to one another about their sexual exploits, most of which were probably lies,
down here at the end of the bleachers are some homosexuals plying their trade and trying not to be detected by ‘the man’
over here are some guys talking about some jobs they pulled and the jobs they plan to pull when they get out
all the noise went away.
It was like I had gone deaf.
And then, I heard a voice.
And the voice said, ‘These are My children who wander blindly into the abyss and you are the only one who can help them. And yet, you do nothing.’
There was a pause, and He said, ‘Love them.’
And I just began to sob.
Because I realized that I hadn’t loved them.
And, I promised His Majesty then that I would love them from now on.
I would learn to love them.
And, love is reciprocal…
I don’t care who you are; if you’re going to win souls for Christ you have to love them. You have to love them in the extreme. You have to be willing to sacrifice your life for them.