, Gloucester, MA


October 28, 2013

Editorial: Inspiration from horrific loss

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

And so it is with the death of Colleen Ritzer, a dedicated young Danvers High School teacher who was 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 Rev. Peter Gori, pastor of Andover’s St. Augustine Parish —the spiritual home of the Ritzer family for years — says 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.

We join in those prayers and offer our condolences to Ritzer’s family and friends. And Gori calls on us to celebrate those qualities of Colleen Ritzer’s life and cultivate them in ourselves.

“She knew what she was doing and was very genuine about it and dedicated and willing to help others,” he said. “Hopefully, she will still inspire us — even in the midst of this horror of her death — to do what we can to be the best that we can in service to others.”

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