Letter from our Pastor
This Lenten Season, Father O’Hara asked us to share some stories about transitions in our lives that reflect the theme of transformation and growing in God’s Grace.
After the Thanksgiving break in November, 1965, I was returning to Fordham in New York City to finish my first semester of graduate work. In an instant, everything changed. Our car flipped on the Thruway near Schenectady. Like a slow motion video, the details are still clear despite the decades of family life and career that intervened.
I lost a lot of blood from my injuries and was hanging from the seat belt that saved my life. Truck drivers raced to our aid. They turned the small car over and released us from the car and worked to stop the bleeding. An ambulance soon arrived and took me to the emergency room where I started to go into shock. Surgery followed. The pain subsided, but the healing was delayed by the discovery of diabetes and an infection. I was transferred to a hospital in Syracuse.
My world was shaken and all my plans were on hold. My head had sustained a lot of damage and the hospital was a hall of mirrors where there was no way to deny my new reality. After my hospital stay, I recovered at my parents’ home in Syracuse. My forced retreat became a time for dealing with these new conditions that I could not even have imagined a few weeks earlier.
Now, after all these years, I see that my accidental detour was really the beginning of a new path. I did not return to Fordham, but finished my program at Syracuse University and found a different career from the one planned. I met my wife, became a social worker and settled down with our family here in Liverpool.
The road that I thought would lead to a carefully planned future to a new location, had instead, taken me back home and that made all the difference. My accident had shown me how fragile and vulnerable my life could be. Scars now marked the transition to a life of different graces that could not otherwise have been imagined.
I was the recipient of countless acts of generosity during that time of illness and healing. I will always feel gratitude for the courage and acts of kindness of the truck drivers on the road that day, for the skills of the medical professionals, for the concern of the clergy, friends and family who visited, and for the help of the students, professors and friends to complete my coursework.
My time convalescing brought me close to the suffering of others like my hospital roommate who had contracted a disabling rheumatoid arthritis. I remember how we both hoped to get back to our lives again. How much we just wanted to leave the hospital and get back to a normal life. We recognized what an extraordinary blessing an ordinary day of work, friends and family can really be.