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God bless Nicos, Nenos & Ramina
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On behalf of the parish community of St. Mary of the Assumption in Stockton, I join the millions of people who feel profound sadness at the loss and suffering of the families and friends of Nicos, Nenos, and Ramina. 

Now that they can at last put closure on nearly five months of waiting, we offer our prayers for healing and restoration.   May the youth rest in peace.

Not long before the tragic accident.  I was in Yosemite at the top of Vernal Fall.  As always, I peered over the edge and wondered at the force of the descending water.  And as always I feared going too near the point of no return.   The line between this life and the next can be very, very thin.

As Ramina’s family posted two days after she disappeared over that line: “We still have hope that they are alive although worldly reasons weigh against us. The three of them are together to glorify the power of our redeemer through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…Do not worry, doubt or fear…God has a most perfect plan that will be revealed to us when He wills it…”

Amen to their faith.  Amen to their conviction that God will be glorified, not so much in the miraculous rescue we had hoped to see, but in the fact that so many people touched by this tragedy have drawn closer to the Lord.

God is being glorified as we take more seriously how brief and fragile are our lives and turn to Him for strength.  And Jesus the Redeemer was glorified, once again, as he embraced the souls of these three young friends and lifted them up into the presence of His Father, saying, “Abba, Look!  Here they are, safe and sound!  Their angels were there to catch them up!”

And I could almost hear Jesus whispering, “When can I tell their families?”

Well, He has told them by now, in the stirring of their faith, in the answers to their prayers, in the voices of their friends, and in the countless messages they’ve received.  I pray also that they’ve had visitors from heaven in their dreams.  And I’m sure they’ve heard the Lord Himself saying, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26).

May God bless you all, Nicos, Nenos, and Ramina, and may the protracted agonies of your families give way to a blessed assurance that you are well.