'Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle.' ~Elizabeth David
On a November night back in 1947, James Townsend, aged 20, shot dead his wife, who was pregnant with twins. Found guilty of first degree murder, Townsend was sentenced to life in prison. The judge told him he should never be released again. After some years in prison he decided to con his way to freedom by faking a spiritual awakening. He began as sacristan for the prison chaplain but soon found himself being deeply moved by the Gospel stories he was hearing. The message of forgiveness, love and hope deeply touched him and a conversion began over many years. In 1967 he was granted an early release. He had thought of joining the strict Trappist order to do penance for all the evil he had done but was directed to the Capuchin Order. The Friars saw all kinds of "red flags" when he wanted to join their order but eventually decided that his faith was genuine. Some years later he became known as Brother Jim. Rather than hiding his appalling past, he recognised that his story could help other prisoners. He gave many retreats to prison inmates and had many one to one conversations with prisoners. His story deeply touched their pain and resonated with everything that was going on for them. Through his ministry there was much healing and great peace was given to many prisoners through the work of Brother Jim. He died on June 12th this year, aged 84.