I don’t have wonderfully fashioned arguments of logic and rhetoric to explain why I believe in the Resurrection. But this demonstrates one of the reasons I believe.
James Tramel, an inmate at the California
State Prison-Solano, was ordained as a priest of the Episcopal Church
on June 18th. The service, the first of its kind in a California
prison, took place in a small courtyard off the prison’s visiting room
and was presided over by the Right Rev. William E. Swing, Bishop of the
Episcopal Diocese of California….
Tramel, 37, was convicted of second-degree
murder in 1986, after co-defendant David Kurtzman stabbed a man to
death in a Santa Barbara park. Tramel has served 19 years of a
15-to-life sentence, and was granted a March 2005 parole date by the
California Board of Prison Terms that was later reversed by California
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger….
Tramel’s ordination meant, Swing said, that
“a dark cloud floated away from the parents. It meant the historic
connection between faith and prison is alive. It meant a stole goes to
a new generation of priests. It meant a witness of staggering hope to
prisoners who were onlookers. It meant that Resurrection is not just
for the afterlife but here and now.”
Richard Dahl, an inmate and member of the Episcopal congregation in
the prison, said that Tramel’s ordination showed him “that even though
I’m down in this place, that there is hope. I’ve known James for three
years, and have watched him grow, and James has helped me know that
there is hope for me.”
After Tramel’s ordination, Swing relinquished his role as presider
and Tramel celebrated the Eucharist. Inmates from the prison
congregation presented grape juice and a croissant from the visiting
room’s vending machines to be used for communion. Referring to his role
as celebrant, Tramel said, “In that moment it felt like my whole life
was coming into focus. It felt like I was right where I was supposed to
…In the past when there was no priest available
to conduct services, the congregation would have Communion (also called
Eucharist) with bread that had been consecrated at a church outside the
prison. Now that Tramel is a priest, he will be consecrating the
Eucharist for the Episcopal worshipping community in Solano Prison.
I don’t think this necessarily happens often, but this sort of transformation defies expectation.