I wanted to share with you my personal reaction to the incredibly sad news that Dale Gordon(age 20) one of our original group of singers on the AMBITION music project was murdered over the weekend.
In 2011 Dale Gordon sang at the funeral of another young, murdered man - Martin Gallagher. That song and that whole episode sparked the beginnings of the ambition music project. Out of tragedy SAFE Gorton was born: Social Action Rooted in Faith.
We set out on a journey, a really risk filled journey. We had no map, no real plan. We simply had a passion and a drive that we must do something. Reach out beyond our usual boundaries and help.
Dale Gordon didn't just sing and write he entered that zone very gifted people enter when performing. In a sense the audience was incidental. He became most himself when singing his own songs. He went to a place that drew you in and moved you to the core.
Dale came from an incredibly difficult background, his opportunities and capacity to understand his own potential were greatly limited. He was caught up in a cycle of life not entirely of his own choosing. His world involved violence and crime; gangs and chaos. However these realities; these facts are not the deepest truth of this young man.
The deepest truth is that Dale is a child of God, I was blessed along with others to witness the amazing grace of God's light in his creative and gifted soul. No young man or woman is the label put on them by people seeking to describe or make sense or define. We are much more than all the definitions and descriptions; we are children of a loving God. That is the identity that demands our attention and respect.
Dale is an example of how much need there is, how much action is required. No one privileged with loving parents and opportunities and choices and the capacity to accept love can keep those gifts to themselves. We have a duty to act; to give; to campaign; to do what we can.
We started a journey that still scares us; and so it should. This is not Disney; this is reality.
Did we fail Dale Gordon? No! The complexity of how his life came to an end in such a way cannot be answered so superficially.
Through us Dale was touched by love and care and he knew, even if he didn't understand, that he was loved without conditions.
We did not establish SAFE to resolve the issues of our streets. We established SAFE to walk with our young people on these streets, to offer them alternatives, and opportunities but most of all to stay with them; to see a person not a statistic or an outcome. We seek to enable them to begin to see their truest self as God sees them; that is real self esteem.
We are hurting because we have lost a family member but we are more resolved than ever to be courageous, to dare to continue on this journey; to stand in the darkness and be a light. We will continue to be SAFE for all those who need us.
Thank you for your support.
Fr Andrew J Stringfellow
Sacred Heart & St Francis
0161 223 0338