Bio

“I have been all things unholy.  If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.”  – St. Francis of Assisi

All through the Bible God has chosen the lowest to do His great work.  So it is with me.  I am a sinner, but I am God’s sinner.

I was born in 1977 to a single teenage mother.  We lived with my grandparents till I was four.  It was a good loving family.  We moved out when my mother married.  My father was a police officer in Dallas.  We had a good life.

When I was five I was raped by a couple of teenage boys in the neighborhood.  I mention it not for sympathy, but because it was such a defining moment for me.  Afterwards I became shy and withdrawn.  At school the other kids teased and made fun of me.

Also, because of the abuse, I became bi-sexual.  As a teenager I was quite a mess.  Full of angst over what happened to me and the way I was treated, I hated God.  I hated him for making the world and for putting me in it.

I found others like myself.  You would call us Goths, though we simply called ourselves “freaks.”

I went to the Art Institute of Dallas, and majored in computer animation.  Graduated and got a job downtown.

I was in my early twenties and I still had never even kissed anyone.  The abuse as a child made me afraid of touching, most especially of sex.  But when I was 23 that changed.  I met a girl, and nothing was ever the same again.  We had a whirlwind romance, and I fell head over heels in love.  Life was perfect.

Except that it wasn’t.  Slowly she began to let me know of her own problems.  Long story short, her father was sexually abusing her.  He had been her whole life.  She had been to the police before, but they had told her that her father “was an upstanding citizen, and she was not a credible witness.”

The night before Easter, 2001, she called me in tears and told me her father had raped her.  I went and picked her up.  I begged her to let me take her to the police since there was physical evidence this time.  She refused out of shame.  I cared for her the next few weeks as she began to recover.

She wasn’t the same anymore.  She was scared and angry.  She began begging me to kill her father.  I was horrified.  Over months she kept at me.  She was very convincing.  When he raped her again, I agreed.

I killed her father the Thursday before 9/11.  I was arrested in November.  I later found out that she was the one who turned me in.  She had made a tape of us talking about it and gave it to the police.  She testified against me at the trial.  The jury had mercy on me and only gave me ten years.  A miracle in Texas.

I was sent to the Polunsky Unit in Livingston Texas.  It is the unit that houses death row.  I worked in the laundry for years, then they put me in the infirmary as a janitor, and later I worked as a janitor on death row.

It was in prison that I converted.  The trauma of the whole thing finally sank in.  I had screwed up my life so bad.  I had committed murder.  I was lost.  I realized that I couldn’t do it alone.  I turned to God.  I didn’t know anything about Jesus at the time, I just knew there had to be someone out there looking out for me.  Getting such a light sentence for such a heinous crime was proof that some higher power was having mercy on me.

I began to pray.  I read the Bible as well as a number of Buddhist, and Hindu texts.  A friend invited me to Catholic Mass.  I went and began studying about the Church.  After months of prayer and study I slowly turned my life over to Jesus.

One of our teachers kept asking us how we could live a Christian life in prison.  One of my friends and I decided that since we were being forced to live like monks, we might as well do it right.  We took temporary vows and became prisoner “monks.”

Our Franciscan deacon was impressed and brought in more volunteers.  He told us that if we could find twelve men, he would start a Secular Franciscan fraternity on our unit.  We found twenty-one.  We studied for two years and on the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Order we made our profession.

I was released in August, 2011.  I have been struggling to readjust and find where God wants me to be in the free world.  This blog is part of that.

In prison I learned how to live a life of prayer.  I want to share that with others now.

Jareth Caelum

3 responses to “Bio

  1. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. May our Jesus fill you with a future that helps you to forget the bad of the past, and press forward with Him.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

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