Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

October 31, 2013

Offering comfort when no answers can be found

Sometimes, there are no answers to why terrible things happen. When one cannot offer answers, comfort must suffice.

And so it is with the death of Colleen Ritzer, a dedicated young teacher from Andover just starting out in life. Prosecutors have charged a 14-year-old student, Philip Chism, with her murder.

So far, there has been no explanation of what might have motivated Chism to commit the crime of which he is accused. But whatever motive emerges as the case progresses — anger, fear, greed — it will not be sufficient. How can the mere experience of an emotion justify the dreadful act of taking a life?

It is human nature to seek to understand, to find a reason that explains the seeming randomness of life. Surely all who have read or heard about this crime are wondering, “Why?”

The family of Colleen Ritzer is facing these most difficult of questions amid their grief, said the Rev. Peter Gori, pastor of St. Augustine Parish, which has been the spiritual home of the Ritzer family for years.

Gori told the Townsman it’s impossible to make sense of the “horrible, sad, painful loss.”

“I wish you could, but you can’t. It’s bigger than our ability to make sense of,” Gori said. “It’s just totally wrong by every civilized standard and every drive there is.”

Where reason fails, faith must endure.

Gori visited the Ritzer family in the hours after Colleen’s death to offer comfort in their time of need.

“I let them know they were in our prayers and our compassion,” Gori said. “If anything, what can make a terrible situation worse even is thinking you are alone in this. To be present for people suffering like this is a source of strength. ... It’s more important for them to be surrounded by love and caring that’s soothing for her parents and brother and sister.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Question of the Week
Pictures of the Week
Stocks