Celebrating 20 years….Through the Gate
Angel’s group – a special group of friends from the Village Church of Wellesley – share this post with us in celebration of Bethany Hill School’s 20th anniversary.
In the spring of 2004, Pastoral Resident Catriona Grant gathered four Village Church members around a dining table on Grove Street. Before us was a letter from an inmate at Bay State Correctional Center. It was dated a year earlier, 4/13/2003. ”To whom it may concern, My name is Angel and I grew up in Puerto Rico…”
This was our introduction to the man we would visit monthly as “Partakers,” supporters of a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree through the Boston University Prison Education Program. The tuition was free but the church paid his for his prerequisite correspondence courses. Angel wrote, “I will work hard to gain knowledge and wisdom. To live, learn, and look towards the future with hope and promise.” At the close of our team’s first dinner meeting, we prayed that someday Angel might join us at that table.
We visited Angel for seven years and formed a strong bond of respect and affection. When he was paroled in June of 2011, members of our group met him at the gate. Within a couple of months, he was approved for and moved into an apartment at Bethany Hill School, a convent converted into a “living and learning community” by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Framingham. He found work with a Wellesley landscaping company. During the slower winter season, he refined his woodworking skills by crafting jewelry boxes and model boats. As we prayed so many years ago, Angel communes at our tables often, sometimes preparing his specialty, spaghetti with clam sauce. In the summer of 2012, he met Emily, a phlebotomist at Marlboro Hospital. We look forward to their wedding at the Holliston Historical Society in March. He has honed his skills as a handyman. Carpentry, painting, stonework, fence-building, patio installation, yard and gutter maintenance, car detailing, drainage and organization are among the services he offers. This wooden fence, designed, carved and constructed without any assistance, demonstrates Angel’s joy in his work.
As each of our families has experienced health crises over the last couple of years, Angel has been there for us. He is a valued friend, worker and a beloved and respected community member at Bethany Hill School. In the appeal he wrote over ten years ago, Angel signed off with a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson: To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming is the only end of life.
Catriona blessed us with that call in 2004. It made friends out of strangers. The Village Church can be proud of its investment.
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