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From a Slave to Sin to My Mother’s Arms: Fr. Donald Calloway’s Improbable Journey to the Priesthood

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Freed from a life of addiction, sin, and crime by an encounter with the Blessed Mother

As one might expect, the MPs quickly got tired of taking my abuse. One of them pulled my right arm up behind my back in an arm lock, as police officers are taught to do when apprehending a suspect. They knew they were hurting me because I let out a blood-curdling scream, yet they didn’t let up. Then as they forced me to the ground, one MP put his knee on my neck and pressed my face into the cement. Even while they were put- ting on the handcuffs, I continued screaming obscenities. I knew I couldn’t take on any of these guys in a fight, but I didn’t want to let them know they were intimidating me.

It was a long ride back to Atsugi, at least an hour. Tommy was transported back to the base with me, although he was in a different vehicle. During the trip, I felt like an animal trapped in a cage. All I could think about was escaping. The fact that my dad was now in the car with me certainly didn’t make me feel any better. He didn’t say anything, but if he had, I would have cursed at him, just like I cursed at the policemen. I hated everybody at that point. I just thought, “This really sucks.” In my mind, this was yet another case of authority inconveniently getting in my way and taking away my freedom.

When we finally got back to the base, they immediately threw me in the brig, a 10′ x 8′ cell furnished only with a little cot. There was no sink, no toilet, no reading material — nothing to do but vent. One of the MPs assigned to guard me — a Filipino-American — was especially abusive, seeming to take great pleasure in calling me names. Of course, I was in no mood to take any garbage from anyone. So I started spitting on him and called him derogatory names. Then I said, “If I ever get out of here, I’m going to kill you!” His fellow guards ushered him down the hall in an effort to prevent the confrontation from escalating any further. That was fine by me. I couldn’t stand to look at him any longer.

After a while, another MP came to my cell and advised me I was going to be deported from Japan as soon as possible. He said that the American military had already made the arrangements with the Japanese government. Being that I was still a minor and hadn’t committed any capital offenses, the Japanese had agreed not to press charges for any of my assorted crimes, provided that I return immediately to the United States and enter into an institution for treatment. Oh, and my parents would have to compensate countless individuals for the merchandise I had stolen — all the thefts that could definitely be traced to me.

When I heard I was about to be kicked out of Japan, my motivation to escape was redoubled. The first few months I lived in Japan, I had hated my new home with a passion. But after a while, I grew to like it. Japan had drugs and girls, beaches and booze, just like the United States, and it was much easier to steal money over there. Now I even had a “girlfriend” — maybe not a girlfriend in the traditional sense of the word —but a “friends with benefits” arrangement.

But now the life I had created for myself was in jeopardy. As an opportunist, I had always been able to quickly size up a situation to get what I wanted. Now I really needed to put those skills into action. I actively considered all the possible options and came to the conclusion that a fight-kick approach obviously wasn’t going to work with the oversize gorillas who were guarding me. I had to get into a situation where I would have a chance to outrun the MPs, a situation where their size and heavy equipment would work against them.

Since there was no toilet in the brig, I asked for permission to use the nearest restroom. To my surprise, they took off my handcuffs and let me out of my cell. I walked down the hall towards the bathroom, but when I reached the door, I just kept going — running the rest of the way down the hall and out the door into the sunshine.

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