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Student from Newtown thanks Fr. Greg

April 5, 2013

I haven’t always felt in perfect touch with my religious side. I get self-conscious and nervous when asked, especially when I encounter friends who can quote a list of their top ten favorite Popes faster than I can list what I had for breakfast this morning. I have trouble talking about what I believe in because I’m afraid I will be wrong or outstandingly uninformed.

This past winter has been particularly spiritually rough, especially on the morning of December 14th when my hometown experienced such an atrocity, I lost sight of God. There were moments where I didn’t know if my brother and my mother were safe. There were moments where I felt my spirit break when neighbors my family knew received the news that their children wouldn’t be coming home from school that day. With heightened confusion and sorrow, I ran to the first place I could think of, and that was the Chapel at the Newman Center. I ran into Father Greg, and when I told him the news, the first thing he offered was to offer a mass to the families who had lost children. He offered without question and without self-gain or self-satisfying heroism. This was just the beginning of his compassionate attitude toward the event. Later the next evening, he called me specifically to ask me how my family and I were doing, and additionally how members of the community were reconciling faith and tragedy. I sat and thought – ideas about the “community of life” and the notions that healing has to come from love and forgiveness will follow rushed out. I didn’t know I could express my ideas of faith that freely, and Father Greg’s encouraging words afterwards made me feel that for once I was speaking what I truly believed. Not only that, but I was applying the ideas of love that he himself has taught to our community, whether in sermon or just as the passing ideas of a thoughtful conversation. He is encouraging and he does think openly about what we students say to him. We are not just spiritual wards to him but spiritual gardens he loves to watch blossom. When I felt his encouragement, I believed more and more in this culture of life and love – not a culture of isolation and hatred which is so easy to fall into after tragedy.  I have to thank him for not letting me lose faith in myself, nor my faith in God.

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