The Event that Fills My Life

The North Carolina community’s Beginning Day included witnesses from Joe who attended the International Meeting of Responsibles in La Thuile as well as Joshua who is the founder of Living With Convictions.

The North Carolina community gathered on a rainy Saturday in Greensboro for our Beginning Day. Two witnesses came to share with us their experiences. Joe Poole, from Tampa, FL, came to share what he heard, saw, and learned from the International Meeting of Responsibles in La Thuile. As he explained the content of the lesson delivered in the assembly entitled Faith is the Fulfillment of Reason, he included examples from his own life and from witnesses he encountered there. Joshua Stancil shared the story of the events which lead to the founding of the non-profit Living With Convictions, a Catholic ministry serving men and women in NC who are or have experienced incarceration. This year the first of two houses opened where formerly incarcerated men are provided with housing and help as they reenter society.

Both men spoke of instances where their response was one of faith in the word of a trusted friend. After they acted as if it were true, the events that followed verified they were on the right path. Joe’s reason for going to the meeting in La Thuile was initially, “because I was invited”. There he encountered men and women from around the world whose dramatic circumstances one would expect would leave them without any hope. How does one have hope when it seems you have lost everything? They described how they met someone who showed them how what they were living had great meaning. Joe hadn’t lived through their circumstances, but what he heard there resonated with his own experience of difficulty in his personal life. He shared with us how the lesson delivered by Davide Prosperi was relevant to all the witnesses, himself, and all those in the room on our Beginning Day.

Joshua met friends from the Movement during his 18 year prison term. He learned over time that things are not always great after you encounter Christ. He shared that he learned that “Christ does not get rid of the problems but gives me companions.” After his own journey of reentry with the support of family and friends, he had an awareness of the needs of men and women who reenter society without such support. For several years he had a desire to start something that was not a “program” with a limited proposal to merely avoid going back to prison but to share a proposal for their lives. In the last year, with the help of friends he started a nonprofit, Living With Convictions. He anticipated that it would take years to fund even one house. Miraculously, a friend connected him with Matt in Greensboro, NC. Unbeknownst to Joshua or the person who introduced them, Matt had been praying for a way to follow his own desire, inspired by reading Matthew 25, to help those in prison, and he also happened to have a small business flipping houses. He offered to buy a house and let LWC rent from him. In March 2023, Kolbe House opened and started providing formerly homeless men a home, and St. Michael House is slated to open in October. Joshua concluded by saying what Davide Prosperi shared in La Thuile on mission is something he sees in his own experience. To be a missionary is to be available to share with anyone what you have met, filled with a longing for them to be “bowled over by the same Event that fills my life.”

I was moved by the way many friends gave of their time so that this event could happen. Along with the presence of our speakers, I didn’t take for granted that families traveled an hour or more with children, prepared music and a proposal that would be beautiful for the children. We were able to enjoy a meal together after attending mass. The day was made possible because of the desire for something beautiful and for the possibility to share what we have met. We went away from the day happy.

Lisa, Charlotte, NC