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Former gangster comes to Marian to spread love of God

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    John Pridmore

Published January 22. 2019 12:48PM

Former gang member turned Christian and motivational speaker John Pridmore will be the guest speaker at Marian High School’s “Regional Day of Prayer” on Friday.

Pridmore is a London “East Ender” who began a criminal career at the age of 13. By the age of 15, he was placed in a juvenile detention facility due to his many acts of theft. That didn’t deter him from his chosen path, and he went to jail at the age of 19.

Prison just reinforced the anger and bitterness that had taken over his life after his parents divorced when he was 10. There were so many fights with other inmates that he spent 23 hours a day in solitary confinement.

When he got out of prison, his fighting abilities attracted the attention of organized crime and he became an enforcer. Pridmore says “he had it all — money, power, drugs, girls,” everything he thought he wanted. But, deep inside, he realized something was missing.

Then, one night, outside of a London nightclub, he was teaching a lesson to a man who failed to pay a debt to his gangster boss. The beating was so severe, Pridmore was sure he had killed the man, but felt no emotion.

Two weeks later, Pridmore was thinking about his victim.

“I was sitting in my chair, thinking about that man when it happened. I suddenly became aware of a voice speaking to me and I knew that it was real and that it was God. I fell to my knees and prayed for the first time and it felt incredible. I’ve taken every drug there is but the feeling I had that night was the best I have ever felt.”

That was the turning point for the former gangster. He joined the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a small group of men who adopt the lives of monks but live in some of the seediest urban districts. He has dedicated his life to spreading the word of God and speaking to young people, encouraging them to stay away from the life of crime and pain he had chosen, through retreats, speaking engagements and his book “From Gangland to Promised Land.”

His goal is simple — to bring hope to others and show them that if God can love someone like me he can love anyone.”

Pridmore’s appearance at Marian was facilitated by John Meier, who describes himself as “a concerned parent.”

“With the current opioid crisis, I feel as if addicts see themselves as unloved. Addiction is so powerful, that treatment often doesn’t work. We need to pray for them and let them know we are praying for them. We need to help them realize that the only thing more powerful than addiction is the power of God and His love for His children.”

Pridmore will be speaking at Marian at 1 p.m. on Friday. The public is welcome to attend.

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