Three recent stories seemed very unrelated on the surface, but there was a thread running through them regarding chances, second chances and no more chances.
There was a bittersweet story about nuns leaving East St. Louis, where for 40 years they ran a preschool and day care that gave generations of young people a better start than they were otherwise likely to get. Sister Ophelia Cervantez and Sister Gema Juarez are headed back to Texas to care for the older sisters in their order.
Provincial Superior Sister Cathy Marquez had this to say: “Some came from broken families, and here they felt secure. Here we cared for them like they were someone valuable.”
Which leads to a young prosecutor in Monroe County who knows what it means to discover your value. Ryan Martin burglarized homes in Madison and Monroe counties when he was in high school, serving three years in prison for his crimes.
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He found Jesus, got through law school and rather than running from his past, intends to use it to battle the drug epidemic in his home county.
“I hope that people hear this story and know you don’t have to be the same person that people tell you that you once were. You don’t have to be the same person you were in high school. You can change and make a difference in your community, and that is exactly what I plan to do,” Martin said.
Finally, there were two young men in Venice who apparently did not think they were someone valuable. They thought robbing a 70-year-old and his female friend would be easy.
They picked the wrong victim, a Vietnam veteran who shot them both. One is dead. The other was seriously wounded and faces a murder charge when he gets out of the hospital because his friend died while they were committing a felony.
They had extensive records, and Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said they were believed to be responsible for a string a similar crimes. Gibbons praised the intended victim.
“Not only did he save himself, his friend and protect everyone around them. He may have saved another individual’s life, if these people had continued to do this,” Gibbons said.
No more chances for one of them; maybe a chance decades from now for the other. But stopping them may have given some unknown individual a second chance they will never know they received.