Sean, 34, has spent most of his adult life in prison. While he came from a good family in Santa Maria, Sean said he just gravitated toward a bad crowd in school. “I started using drugs and getting into trouble,” he said. “I was sent to a juvenile boys camp when I was 17, and I’ve just been in and out of prison since.”
Earlier this year, Sean decided to come to the Mission. “Over the last five years, I’ve been accepted here four times and never came. I’d basically just choose to do 60 more days of jail,” Sean said. “I’d think, it’s easier for me to just stick it out then do a 10-month program. I really do believe that it was God’s will that I come to this place—I just didn’t make the right choice. That’s why the door kept reopening for me.”
Sean said he’s made a commitment to himself and his family to stop his criminalistic behavior. “When I got here, I promised my son I’d never go back to jail,” he said. “I’d made that promise before. But this last time, I remember so vividly making that conscious decision. I’m tired of it.”
Sean grew up religious, but steered away from his faith as a teenager. In jail, he met a chaplain who helped open his heart to God again. “She would come in and talk to us, bring a biblical message, show movies. I started talking to her more and more. She completely repaved the path for me to be back with the Lord.”
Sean said his relationship with his kids, who are 17, 11, and 5, is good now, and he’s learning about becoming a better parent. “While I was in custody, my oldest daughter was arrested for being in a stolen car,” he said. “That was a big thing to me—that’s how I would get in trouble. It’s hard. I’m learning about fathering and disciplining.”
He’s has also decided to take up cooking, and was thrilled to learn that the Mission has a culinary arts program. “Right off the bat, I wanted to get into the kitchen,” he said. “I’m on the cooking crew and help cook all the meals. It’s a great experience.
“I love it here,” Sean said. “I don’t ever plan on returning to Santa Maria. I don’t want to go back, bump into people. I have to separate myself from that. … I’m just mentally healthy. I’m at peace and I’m happy here. And I owe that all to this place and God.”