Is everyone familiar with who Saint Dismas was? Saint Dismas was the "good thief" who was crucified next to Jesus. I'm not so certain of where the term "good thief" came from, because if he had been really good and being a thief, he wouldn't have been arrested and therefore would not have been crucified; but that is another story for another time. On the cross he doesn't beg Jesus to save him from his execution, he simply asks Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into His Kingdom. Saint Dismas was not a theological scholar and was probably not well versed on Heaven, Hell or the Kingdom Jesus spoke of. But he had faith in the Words of Christ.
The Brothers of Saint Dismas began in prison. We took this name in honor of the first recorded Saint (Jesus told him "this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise) because we too had been convicted for our crimes. We were, initially all convicts. A Fraternity of Catholic Convicts determined to help one another live holy lives in a world darkened by sin and suffering.
In a world where most had embraced Satan in one form or the other. A world where murder, rape and every form of violence imaginable was a day to day occurrence. Within this world, we chose Christ. We chose to live the Catholic Faith, and assist one another along the way. I was member 351. I was baptized on Beto-1 TDCJ-ID Unit on November 21, 2001. I had already done 10 years and was a gang leader. I became Catholic, and while my gang knew this and respected it; others did not know, or did not care. A riot issued shortly after my baptism and I was placed in segregation for participating. Segregation is as close to hell as man can make. I watched strong men simply loose their minds in there. But this was the best thing for my faith. I read a LOT of Catholic material and began to grow in the knowledge of Christ and His Church. A year and a half later I was released and shortly thereafter I was transferred to Ramsey 2, where I learned about the Brothers of Saint Dismas and joined.
Tommy Picard got our a few years before me and began bringing his vision to pass. A program called C.R.I.S.P. Catholic Reintegration Into Society Program. When Brothers got out, they were given a backpack with necessary items, and a phone. This led to the foundation of the Kolbe House. I will go into detail about the house in another blog, but it was a method house that was donated. The Brothers of Saint Dismas renovated it and turned it into a halfway house for Catholic men getting out of prison. Since this house opened, not one person who arrived has gone back prison. A free world chapter of the Brothers of Saint Dismas was formed in Houston and Deacon Denis Hayes took over the administrative aspects of both the Kolbe House and the BSD. It was decided that being in prison was not a requirement for entry into the Brothers of Saint Dismas (BSD) and many prison ministers became involved.
Today, the BSD and the Kolbe House make frequent trips to downtown Houston delivering clothing and food to the homeless and the poor. A chaple was built behind the Kolbe House and a retired Priest says Mass there every Tuesday Evening.
Why am I writing this story? It is to show you, that with Jesus there is no place where good can't happen. He took me, and all of us out of the darkest of environments and allowed His Light to shine through us all. A second faith based house was established and opened in Huntsville, Texas a few months ago. Please pray for us as we mover forward. Assistance can be sent to dismag.org (our sister group are the "Sisters of Mary Magdalene" Saint Dismas pray for us.