Forgiveness in Action in Kingsburg

I enjoy being a part of a wonderful ministerial fellowship in Kingsburg. As a result of participating with this group of ministers, I have benefited greatly by becoming friends with pastors from various denominations. One such friendship is with the local priest, Father Greg Beaumont. He has written the following article which tells a gripping redemptive story about a juvenile offender and forgiveness. The article was first published in a recent Central California Catholic Life newspaper. Here is the article in full, in his own words, reprinted with his permission:

It was a sad and disheartening day back in early December, when we discovered that the monstrance (empty), a thurible for burning incense from Jerusalem, a chasuble (priest's vestment), three alter servers robes, an empty velvet collection bag and the small cross from the Tabernacle - valued $7000 were gone. Much greater value, of course, was the sacredness of these things we use for worship here at the Holy Family church in Kingsburg. This was the first of a string of robberies, in five churches in Kingsburg.

Later, a 16 year-old was arrested and the stolen items recovered and the people in the town were angry and upset. In February, I talked with the youth in juvenile hall. He told me how difficult it was to be there for over a year. "I was not a thief, but in a weak and foolish moment agreed to hide the items stolen by some 'friends' involved with drugs."

I expressed the forgiveness of everyone at my church, and how we are prepared to help him. He was surprised and confused because, he felt he didn't deserve any kindness. I give thanks for this very special grace-filled opportunity. It is the infinite love and mercy that Jesus shows us on the cross, that inspires us to treat others with kindness and patience and mercy even when they offend us and hurt us.

I shared with him the story of Jesus how he was arrested, and treated as a criminal, and the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who used his prison time to reach out to others with kindness and to help them. He could make his jail stay more bearable by being kind to other young prisoners and to the correctional officers. He said the he was profoundly sorry for the theft, and together we bowed our heads and prayed.

For anyone who has been hurt, offended, victimized, abused, robbed or betrayed, cheated on, overlooked, neglected or put down, there is a road that leads to healing and peace. It is the road to Calvary, to the Son of Man who in response to scourging, blows and spit in this face, insults and lies, mockery and crowning with thorns, and with nails driven into this hands and feet, made the effort to say, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

What is interesting is I tried to become involved with this case as a VORP mediator. But sadly I could not gain parental consent. Even so, it is just like God to provide another means to bring redemptive value to a dark situation. Thank you Father Greg for being an instrument of God's peace!