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“I always thought God hated me. Why not? Everyone else did,” said Tremblay. “Some days now, I manage to pull it together.”

It was almost seven years ago when I first met my friend Don. He was finishing up his latest stretch in a federal penitentiary and had been released to a halfway house.

Don would be the first ex-prisoner I would meet and walk with as I prepared for my ministry work with the Friends of Dismas.

He was an angry man- angry at the world, at Corrections Canada, at his mother and at the guy who cut me off in traffic as we went out for for a burger and fries. I thought to myself what have I gotten into as Don used a certain four letter word to describe the driver in front of us- I prayed we wouldn’t get stopped at a light for fear Don would exact some revenge for the sin of cutting me off!

Seven years later we are friends. Much has happened in those years, many times of laughing, others of crying and wondering. Through it all we stayed in touched and talked and talked and talked.

About a year ago things changed dramatically for Don, and he has really been on a good path thanks to the help of many others in our community that have cared for him over the years.

During my wife’s illness, Don has called me often and told me he has all of us in his prayers. Along with my friend Gordie, these prayer intentions have helped me through some difficult times.

Therein lies a significant part of the Christian message.  There are times when we are called to reach out to others in friendship and then life sends us something where we need to lean on a friend.

A week or so ago the Catholic Register featured Don on the front cover of the newspaper and did a full page  article on his story.  Take a moment and read about my good friend Don and his journey of hope.

Prison does nothing for jailed, victims.

By: Michael Swan

Don Tremblay started committing armed robbery when he was 12. He grew up to be an honest-to-God Montreal bank robber. The last time he was incarcerated, he split seven years between Joyceville Institution in Kingston, Ont., and Warkworth Institution near Campbellford, Ont., for armed robbery, weapons dangerous and assault causing bodily harm.

He’s a big guy in a leather vest with a long grey ponytail and a silver cross hanging by a silver chain around his neck. In a Toronto halfway house now, he will remain under the supervision of the prison system for years to come.

He admits it’s a struggle for him not to think and act like a criminal. Having survived abuse as a child, he sometimes wonders why he’s not still in jail. A prison psychologist once asked him why he wasn’t serving life, given his childhood.

“It took a long time, 10 years, to go from the raging, intolerant person I was then to where I am now,” he said.

For years, rage was Tremblay’s drug of choice.

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