Former gang member to speak at Stamford Hill Mission

John Pridmore

John Pridmore

Standing more than six feet tall, with large shoulders and a shaven head, at first sight he looks more gangster than missionary, but John Pridmore has a message to share.

That message is a simple one, that God can and does change lives.  He tells of how, following his parents' divorce at the age of ten, he started getting into trouble, ending up in a young offenders prison.  Having left home at 15, the only occupation he had learnt was stealing.  By his 20s he had become a violent East End gangster well-acquainted with the capital's criminal underworld.

Carrying a machete and knuckledusters was part of his daily routine, working security for the top clubs in the West End; his reputation for violence was known and respected.    With the gangster lifestyle came all the money, power, women, and
sports cars, but Pridmore found it all strangely empty.

After nearly beating a man to death outside a club, his life underwent a drastic change.

His status as an inspiring and powerful international speaker was underlined last year as he spoke to more than half a million people who gathered for the World Youth Day in Sydney.  Pridmore's appeal, especially to young people, is the honesty and
openness with which he speaks about his past life.  The gangster image that is often glorified in films, television, and music is one Pridmore wants to unmask.  Recently he travelled to Hollywood to meet with a producer who hopes to bring his conversion
story to the big screen.

Since leaving the life of crime he has worked in the Bronx in New York, where he spent time with Mother Teresa.  Currently he lives in Ireland with four others, who work full-time to help bring hope and renewal to parishes and schools.
John Pridmore will be sharing his story at St Ignatius Church, Stamford Hill, from Monday, May 31 to Friday, June 4 (7.30 pm  Monday to Friday plus Mass, Monday to Thursday at 10 am).

"John Pridmore says he wants people to know 'if God could love someone like me, He can love anyone'," says parish priest, Fr Peter Randall SJ. "This is one story no one should miss.'

John Pridmore's true-crime biography, From Gangland to Promised Land , has become a best-seller, and his second book, A Gangster's Guide to God, is a handbook to help those continuing in the spiritual life.

Source: Jesuit Communications

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