My terrorist convert friend (suicide)

terrorist suicide

I don’t why, but I seem to know many more terrorists than the average Joe on the street. I don’t know why that is. This is a happy story and a sad story. An interreligious dialogue story. A story, I am afraid, of a victory but also of a terrible failure on my part. And maybe that’s why I dwell on such things a bit too much.

While doing my studies in Rome, taking the good example of a certain Swiss priest-friend, I made it a habit to do some street apostolate while doing my studies in Rome. Besides saying Mass and hearing confessions at pretty much every Missionary of Charity house in the city (except the one in Vatican City), I made it a point to spend a morning each week giving showers to just a few of the geriatric street crowd who couldn’t possibly do anything for themselves. There were also some younger crowd there in what we can call the general population, who were well able to fend for themselves, and who were of the Islamicist persuasion. I’m not sure why they were there, but if you are on the street and don’t want to be, you can be pretty ingenious at coming up with convincing stories.

Anyway, the sisters decided they were going to get a number of buses and take everyone up North of Rome for a day trip to a shrine dedicated to some holy priest who I think at the time had just been beatified. We sang songs all the way there, had a tour of the shrine, and then had a great outdoor picnic. I went along for the ride just to show them that they were well worth the effort, that God loved them, that we were all family. Some had questions about this or that and I did my best to answer. It was just a very pleasant day all around. Until…

missionaries of charityOne middle-aged Islamicist fellow who was also tagging along for the trip declared that he wanted to see me, to talk to me, now… Before I could walk the fifty yards or so to where he was perhaps five people came up to me to tell me of the desired encounter. He was sitting on his own on a concrete bench of a concrete bus stand, looking terribly defiant and dejected and alone and in absolute charge of everything and everyone and yet altogether vulnerable and confused. I looked at him pleasantly, being available come what may. He simply looked back at me, for a good while, as if coming to an understanding, a decision, and that was it. He didn’t want to speak with me. He had seen what he needed to see of this priest who was so often with the Missionaries of Charity. That was it. He surely had had a great day. A glorious day. So good that it literally brought him to end his life, because that simply was not where he was at.

He had intended to do a great deal of harm to people, but repented from his terrorist ways that day and in that moment with me, but didn’t know how to change his life. He simply tied a rope around his neck and threw himself out a top floor of the building immediately upon returning to Rome. I wish I had been able to speak with him. But I think God will have mercy on his soul. He tried to do the right thing, not knowing how to do it. He didn’t do the evil he had intended. He stopped it the only way he knew how. We are all so very fragile. I wish I could have done more for him. I carry this kind of thing with me. This is why I try to figure out Islam, and I think I have. More to come on 37:100-113…


Filed under Interreligious dialogue, Terrorism

5 responses to “My terrorist convert friend (suicide)

  1. SognPlaci

    What a story! That Swiss priest-friend almost got you in deep troubles…

  2. Lynn

    What a story. I have the chills. Somehow without words you helped this man. Who knows how many lives that encounter saved. Thank you for sharing this…..

  3. Cathe D.

    Father George, not knowing his ultimate intention, there is nothing more you could do for him. If you had known, the story would have been different..maybe. In cases like this, I trust that God was with you and guided you in that situation. Only God knows what is in that man’s heart and likely judges this man on his love for fellow man. (Of course, we are not to judge another.) We need to trust in God’s mercy and love for that fellow and offer prayer for his soul. However, it can be very haunting when you are left with this spiritual burden of uncertainty of what you could or should have done. But hindsight is the torment that must be crushed in God’s love and mercy. Give over this torment to God and let God give you peace and healing of the past. God bless you Father George…cathy

  4. Liz

    I will pray for his soul.

    I read the first sentence of your post to my oldest daughter and said, “Only Fr. George starts a post like that!” You do beat all, Father! Wow.

  5. Cathy

    I think of Islam as slavery of the worst kind, making room for everything but love. I pray for the conversion of Muslims and their courage to convert. I also pray for the conversion of the progressive west, Europe and the USA, which simply proposes a different kind of slavery, making room for everything but love. I hope you don’t mind me posting a reflective article on Islam meeting the progressive west.

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