Bicentennial memories and moments: ‘He would always be there’

LifeTeen has been a blessing to me. I have had some amazing experiences on the retreats. The most amazing spiritual experience I have had was during the Spring Retreat last year, my junior year at Dedham High. My grandfather had just passed away a few months earlier and I was still in mourning. We were very close and I missed him dearly. So when during adoration Father Matt Williams, said, “If there is anyone here who is in darkness about anything, please come closer to the monstrance,” (because of course that is where Jesus Christ was) I got up. But then, I looked around and saw everyone was moving closer.

Now there were about 100 teens from various high schools ranging from freshmen all the way to seniors. But we were all in the same boat, we were all in darkness. So we all started praying and after a few minutes everyone was crying hysterically. I had two hands on my shoulders and they felt like the hands of Jesus Christ trying to calm me down. Then a little voice whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry I am always here for you. I’ll always be here in your heart.” I looked around and there was no one there. I was quite confused. But after a few seconds I realized that it was my grandfather’s voice -- he had a very distinct voice. I cried even harder than I had been before as I recalled images of the wake, funeral, and my grandmother, older and younger cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers and parents crying at both the wake and the funeral.

But then I started to relax and I felt more at peace because I knew that, though my grandfather wasn’t physically there, he would always be there in my heart and that I could ask him for strength whenever I needed it. It is the same with God, he is always there for us whenever we need him. The only way to get to know him is through prayer and going to church.

Steven Riley is a parishioner of St. Mary Parish in Dedham and a senior at Dedham High School.