A Priest’s Life
some fashion. Don’t get me wrong: My aunt and uncle were both very good to me, and I could not have asked for better, but they could never take the place of my parents. This they realized, and never did they attempt to do so.
Experiencing God’s Love
These many years later, I look back on these two events that shaped my very being with gratitude, not because of the loss of my parents, but rather because of how I grew and matured as a result of their deaths. After Dad died, but especially after Mom, I began to pray to God, asking him for answers, for support, and for love. As I spent more time in the presence of God, I felt his love in a very real way, and drew immense peace and com- fort from that experience. In my great sadness and pain, I went to him, and there I experienced his love.
When I was seventeen, I went on my first Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) retreat. Here I was able, for the first time, to really let go of much of the hurt and pain that I had kept bottled up deep within me. It felt so good to be free of that pain after so many years, and with that release, the love of God seemed to flow through me. I could truly feel the healing presence of God in and around me.
God’s presence to me was also manifested in the person of Fr. John Beveridge, the pastor at my parish. Fr. John helped me through these difficult experiences without even fully realizing that he had done so. He was always there for me from the moment I first arrived in the parish after Dad died. As I grew, so too did our friendship. He was always there with a listening spirit, a com- passionate heart, helpful advice, a great joke, and an encouraging