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“I have become a different person”

April 5, 2013

During my three years at GW, I have seen, heard, and experienced things that I never could have foreseen, and I am immensely grateful for that. I have become a different person than I was in high school, and simultaneously become more completely myself, and the person I have to thank most for that is Fr. Greg Shaffer.


In the past three years, I have done things I never believed I would be able to do, and Fr. Greg is the one who has empowered me to do those things. I walked into his office within the first month of arriving at school, sobbing because I had learned that a friend of mine from back home had been sexually assaulted. She had called me for help because I had been sexually assaulted in high school, and she needed someone she knew and loved to walk her through the process, and helping her dredged up the pain from my past and I didn’t know how to cope with it. Over several meetings Fr. Greg counseled me about what I should do, taking my opinion into account and reminding me that the best way for me to be in a place to help my friend was to work through my own pain. With his help, I became able to empower my friend to speak out about her experience and forgave my assailant, something which some of the people I love the most still have not been able to do.


Last year I entered Fr. Greg’s office again, sobbing once more, but this time because one of my close friends from high school was dying and I didn’t know if I would ever see him again. Fr. Greg immediately dropped the work he was doing and hugged me, allowing me to cry into his shirt for five or ten minutes before sitting me down to talk. I let him know that this friend had had treatment-resistant brain tumors since our freshman year of high school, and that because he never acted “sick” I had never thought of him that way, and his impending death shocked me because I never imagined it happening. He assured me that my friend’s suffering would lessen the time I believed he would spend in Purgatory, and that I should remember that as sad as I would be when he died, he would experience unbelievable joy in heaven, where I could one day join him. He checked on me every day to see how I was doing, and allowed me to talk to him as often as I needed to. He called me at home when I texted him to let him know that my friend had died to express his condolences personally, and told me he would continue to pray for his soul.


Through my time at GW, Fr. Greg has been a friend, a mentor, and a second father to me. He has guided me through easy and difficult times, encouraging me when I need it and reprimanding me when my actions and attitude warranted it. Fr. Greg supported me when I was frightened to go home because my parents and I were fighting and I feared they would reject me, and he rejoiced with me each time our relationship improved. He has loved me in spite of all the sins I have confessed to him and in spite of the fact that he has had to remind me often to exercise self-control when I least want to do so. I know that I would not be nearly as happy or good a person if I had not met Fr. Greg, and I intend to remain friends with him long after I leave GW. I thank God every day that I met Fr. Greg, because he is the best man I know and I have become a better person because I know him.


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