Venue: St Francis Xavier Cathedral, 36 Harbour Street, Wollongong
Speaker: John Pridmore
Topic: The Gift of Our Lady
Cost: FREE (donations appreciated)
RSVP: 21 November 2019
In cooperation with Parousia, the diocese is hosting international speaker John Pridmore. John is an ex-gangster and bestselling author of book From Gangland to Promised Land which chronicles his conversion and how he left the London club, drug and crime scene behind. John is now a devout and practicing Catholic and a full time speaker, travelling internationally to reach thousands of people each year in parishes, schools and prisons, proclaiming the gospel and how it has changed his life.
International Guest Speaker and Best Selling Author
John was born in the east end of London. At the age of 10, his parents got divorced and John made an unconscious decision not to love any more. At the age of 13 he had started stealing and by 15 he was put in a detention centre (youth prison).
When John left home after having been released, his only qualification was stealing, so that’s what he kept doing. At 19 he was in prison again and because of the way he had always dealt with pain through anger, he was always fighting. John was put on 23 hour solitary confinement and he came out even more angry and bitter. John started bouncing round the east and west end of London. He liked fighting so he thought he might as well get paid for it! He met some guys who seemed to have everything and started to work for them. Before long he wasn’t working for them, he was working with them. These were the guys who ran most of the organised crime in London. These guys had what John thought was everything – money, power, girls, drugs and the lot.
But yet there was something missing… This struck John more than ever when he thought he had killed someone outside of a nightclub he was working at. After nearly taking that man’s life, something incredible happened and John’s life began to change. John began working with at risk youth showing them there is another path than the violent one he took. Within a few years John was speaking full-time in parishes, schools and prisons around the U.K. and Ireland to tens of thousands of people each year.
Excerpt from John’s testimony:
“What is it your son wants me to do?” And I felt Mary whisper in my heart, “Go to confession.” I’d never been to confession in my life, and I think I have broken every commandment there was, but somehow, Mary gave me the courage, because I was scared. And I went to confession, and I left out nothing. I told the priest everything I had done, terrible, horrendous things. And after this confession I was too ashamed to look at him. And he said, “Look at me.” But I wouldn’t look at him. I was looking at the floor. And he said again, “Look at me.” And as I looked at him, I saw that he was crying. And he said, “Jesus loves you.
And it was like that part of my life that I thought could never be forgiven, that part of me that could never be redeemed, was suddenly redeemed. It was like I felt the wind on my face. I heard the birds singing. It was like I felt my life had been resurrected through Jesus’s crucifixion. I came away from that confession, and I ended up going to Mass. And as I went to receive the Eucharist, I just said a simple prayer, and I said, “If this is true to you, Jesus, then show me, because I don’t understand.”
Our diocesan logo is theologically rich and very succinct. As a hand, it depicts our mission as a diocese and as individuals within the diocese, of bearing (bringing, carrying) Christ’s love to one another and to the world around us. In this, we are the hand of Jesus Christ, and we are offering ourselves to him so that he might work through us.
We can be the bearers of his love only as a response to his call and in the strength of his grace. We are reminded of this in two ways—through the symbol of the dove (the Holy Spirit) also present in the logo, and by the incorporation of the cross that segments the logo. The presence of the cross is a reminder that bearing the love of Christ will inevitably cost us if we live it authentically. However, in the way that the Cross is the portent of redemption and life—an echo of the tree of life in the book of Genesis—so becoming bearers of the love of Christ will also bring us to life.
The four fingers of the hand also represent the four regions of our diocese. The first is bluerepresenting the beautiful water of the Shoalhaven. The second is a blue and green combination representing the waters and escarpment of the Illawarra. The third is greendepicting the hills and plains of the Macarthur. The fourth is dark green illustrating the forests of the Southern Highlands.