New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
News >

Ex-con curate keeps cell pact with God

by Paul Wilkinson

Click to enlarge

A FORMER drug-dealer and con­victed armed robber, who made a pact with God to turn his life round, will be ordained priest by the Archbishop of York on Sunday.

The Revd Matt Martinson, aged 35 (above), grew up with a father who was an alcoholic and a drug-addict, he says. He joined the Army to escape, and later lived rough in York, sleeping on a boat under a bridge in the city centre. From there he drifted into crime. It started with fighting, moved on to drugs, and in 1995 he was arrested for armed robbery, and jailed for 11 years.

But a chance meeting with a cleric had already started him thinking about God, and during his time at Wolds Prison in East Yorkshire, he was taken under the wing of the chaplain, the Revd David Casswell. After less than four years, he was paroled, and started a spiritual journey that has led to his new life.

“I didn’t really go to school much, and I started playing truant when I was 13,” said Mr Martinson, who is Assistant Curate at St Nicholas’s, Beverley, Yorkshire. “I certainly was not interested in church or God then. The only time we ever went to church was Christmas Eve, not because it was Christmas, but because it was just somewhere to get away from my Dad, who was starting his Christmas bender.”

In 1994, however, a clergyman made a routine parish call on him and his girlfriend in York. “From the moment he walked in, I knew that he had something I wanted,” Mr Martinson said on Wednesday. “I didn’t know what it was. I just wanted whatever he had.

“This guy was just full of God — in his talk, in his mannerisms, his actions, everything. I just knew there was something real about his God. I don’t know who he was, and still don’t.”

At that point in his life, Mr Martinson had already made a suicide bid, and was convinced that his life of violent crime was heading towards an early death. After his arrest for armed robbery, while sitting in a police cell in Carlisle, he made his pact with God. “I said: ‘If you keep me alive, I’ll bow the knee to you, but at this point I really don’t care if I live or die.’

“God spoke to me when I was in prison, and told me: ‘Some day, you’ll be an ordained vicar.’ I laughed. But this sense of calling just kept growing.”

The York diocesan adviser on vocations, the Revd David Mann, said: “Matt’s story shows how God can change a person’s life. He’s been helped by some great priests in his journey. I’m sure he will be just as inspiring in his ministry.”

Job of the week

Priest in Charge

Wales

Esgobeath Bangor The Diocese of Bangor Eglwys sy'n Dysgu A Learning Church The Bishop of Bangor wishes to appoint a Priest in Charge of Conwy & Gyffin and Ministry Area Leader Designate Th...  Read More

Signup for job alerts
Top feature

Counting the cost

Counting the cost

Huw Spanner hears tips for people who are interested in banking, investing, and saving more ethically, but who are unsure where to start  Subscribe to read more

Question of the week
Should the UK take in more refugees fleeing Islamic State's terrorists?

To prevent multiple voting, we now ask readers to be logged in. This is free, quick and easy, honestly. Click here to login or register

Top comment

Looking for new funds? Pass the ice-bucket

As charities seek to attract a new generation of donors, they are having to find more targeted methods, reports Nick Jowett  Subscribe to read more

Wed 22 Oct 14 @ 12:05
The Archbishop of York says he is "deeply ashamed" by failure of CofE to protect children https://t.co/4WdTZW1JV3

Wed 22 Oct 14 @ 12:04
An inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse by a former Dean of Manchester has identified "systemic failings" in CofE http://t.co/VuuJ5MG75s