Friends Logo V2Easter 2009 Edition
The Newsletter of The Friends of Dismas
Youre invited bw
Circles of Support and Accountability Celebration Day
Sat. April 18th 9:30am-3:00 pm 
Danforth Mennonite Church
2174 Danforth Ave. Toronto, Ontario
This is a special invitation to attend the Circles of Support and Accountabilty Annual CELEBRATION DAY, which will be held on Saturday, April 18, 2009, from 9:30 to 3:00 pm at Danforth Mennonite Church.
We will be celebrating the 15th Anniversary of Circles of Support & Accountability. Our day will feature special presentations, the celebration of accomplishments and milestones, as well as storytelling, song, music and fun.
To RVSP or get additional details please call 416-596-9341.

Friends Logo V2
To donate please send a cheque to the following:
Friends of Dismas
PO Box 117, Markham Station
Markham, L3P 3J5
or to donate on-line with a credit card visit the link below which will take you to our partner for on-line donations CanadaHelps.
CanadaHelps Logo 
Thanks to all our friends for caring.
Dismas Fellowship Logo dec08Dismas Fellowship  Dates
The Toronto Dismas Fellowship meetings are held on Friday evenings at Walmer Baptist Church. The dates for 2009 are as follows:
April: 10 & 24
May: 15 & 29
June: 12 & 26
July: 17
August: 21
September: 11 & 25
October: 9 & 13
November: 6 & 20
December: 4 &18
The Hamilton Dismas Fellowship  meets at the First Pilgrim Church on the followng dates:
May 1
For information on the Dismas felowship please visit our website at:


 Tuesday Dinner at  Keele Program
Volunteer Faith Communities Needed 
Every second Tuesday we hold a community dinner with the men at the Keele Centre. If you would like to get involved in this program please click on the link below to view our Volunteer Guide: 


 Visit our New Online Journal
The Friends of Dismas continues to grow and a number of our members have written about their experiences in reflections, poems and in art work.
We have set up an  On-Line Journal on our website where we will collect these works so they can be shared with the entire community.
If you have these types of works that you would like to have posted please e-mail us at;
To visit the our new Reflection Corner please click on the links below:
        When Timothy Met Pearl          
           By: Rev. Harry Nigh  
For some of our group, even in their 40's, it was the first wedding they'd ever witnessed.  For others who had attended many weddings, they said they'd never seen one like this.
Timothy had joined our Dismas Fellowship a year ago after completing a federal prison sentence. When he first asked me if I would perform his marriage to Pearl I knew it was going to take a lot of work. 
Tim Bridal PartyBoth of them, and Pearl's 6 year old son Elijah from a previous relationship, were recovering from significant losses. Timothy's parents died when he was young and he grew upon the tough streets of Detroit. Pearl's mom had just died. They didn't have any money (but who does these days?). Neither belonged to a faith community but both were strong Christians.
We had never had a wedding before in our Dismas Fellowship but the group loved the idea. It soon became our wedding!
Mr. Kim offered to sing a solo and arrived in a cream-coloured suit looking almost as good as the bride.
Mike D. with his good connections called to say, "Harry, do you remember Frankie S. who was shot to death at the corner of Weston and Hwy. #7 a few years ago? Well, his son's a baker and will give us a good deal. What do you say we get some people to chip in a few bucks and buy the wedding cake?"
Elda T. paid for the truck to move them into their new apartment. One of Timothy's friends printed the invitations and one of Pearl's friends bought flowers. Choo Yee offered her splendid talents on piano.
Tim Pearl Group Timothy met Pastor Alvin Nicholson of Agape Ministries at our Restorative Justice Conference last November. His church welcomed the couple and he provided pre-marital counselling and officiated at the service. The members of Agape prepared a beautiful African-Canadian meal and our Dismas folks brought dessert. Timothy and Pearl have a faith community now.
Documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig volunteered to film the event. James - a friend of Timothy from "back in the day" - ordered a limousine to take them to Niagara Falls and put them up on the 21st floor of the Casino Hotel. The room came with a spectacular view of the Falls, a Jacuzzi, and most impressive for Timothy, a telephone right beside the "john".

I bought the marriage license.
It was pure Dismas - hilarious, informal, joyous and yet profoundly sacred. Nothing was missing and it surpassed their and our expectations.
A black preacher once said, "When an alcoholic enters the doors of AA the resurrection is happening". When a man with a broken past
and a single mom with a 6 year old boy covenant their lives before God "who sets the lonely into families" (Ps 68), that too is the resurrection happening again. We witnessed it.
May you have a blessed Easter.
Harry Nigh         Harry Nigh / April 2009
Be StillWomen's Silent Retreat
 Last July, Community Chaplaincy held the first silent weekend retreat for women on parole. It was a healing experience for many and has led to the creation of Quiet Day Retreats, one for each season of the year: autumn, winter, spring, and summer.

The next retreat day will take place on Monday, May 18, 2009 at Manresa Retreat Centre in Pickering.  And our next Silent Weekend Retreat will be held, once again, at Five Oaks Centre from July 10-12, 2009.

If you are interested in participating in either of these retreats and/or helping in a variety of ways please contact Eusebia da Silva at 416 540-5064 or at .

ReflectionsWomen's Retreat Reflections
Here is what two of the women who have participated in all three retreats wrote about their experience.
"Who are we? We are a group of women who are intentionally building a community for retreat and reflection to provide nourishment in our lives.  The group includes both women on parole and women not on parole. We gather once per season to set aside time from our daily lives and create an environment that fosters gifts such as insight, strength, friendship, and the awareness of God's presence.  The intentional space is set within a beautiful landscape and involves such offerings as nature hikes, breathing meditation, prayer discussions, film screenings, good food, and spiritual exercises.  We view this work as meaningful and radical: it provides an atmosphere of love and care that encourages each one of us to know we are worthy and that we are loved." 
- Donna M.
"I have been to the silent retreats offered by Community Chaplaincy three times now. Each time has been a precious blessing that has moved me into a deeper, more committed relationship with my Maker. The combination of spiritual direction and structured silence has allowed me to seek and find God in ways that promote intimacy and healing. I will never lose what I have gained during these retreats and what I've gained can never be taken away!"
- Michele C.

Cross ShadowThe Stations of the Cross as experienced by Dismas 

Christians are familiar with the Passion of the Christ. The story is often told in the 14 Stations of the Cross which trace the final stages of Christ's human journey.

Several years ago Don T. agreed to write reflections on the Stations from the view point of Dismas the Good Thief while he was serving time in the Kingston Penitentiary.
On Monday March 30th Mike D. of the the Dismas Fellowship touched a group of parents and their children as he related his story of going to prison and then finding hope because a person of faith reached out to him. Mike D. told his story in between the readings of selected stations and the impact was powerful.
Please take a moment this week to visit our website at the link below to read the complete story of the Passion of the Christ as told from the vantage point of the the Good Thief - St. Dismas.

Hot Docs  Join us for the Premiere    
 A Hard Name

From the director Alan Zweig comes a very different film. Raw and intimate interviews with ex-convicts who come across as the most gentle souls you could ever meet - apart from the stabbings and armed robberies - talk about their lives in prison and their struggles to adapt to life on the outside.

A number of the people in the film are members of the Dismas Fellowship. We will be organizing a block of tickets to the Premiere showing as part of the HotDocs film festival on Sunday May 3rd at the Royal Cinema.

If you are interested in going as part of the Friends of Dismas group on Sunday May 3rd please e-mail:
For more information on the film please visit our website at:  A Hard Name - Information
 Daily Thoughts with Vanier
Three Vital Activities

There are three activities that are absolutely vital in the creation of a community. The first is eating together around the same table. The second is praying together. And the third is celebrating together. By celebrating I mean to laugh, to fool around, to have fun, to give thanks together for life. When we are laughing together with belly laughs we are all the same.
Jean Vanier in "Living Gently in a Violent World,"