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A Priestly “Cassock” Saved A Life

The priestly “cassock” saved a life?  What does that exactly mean? Six little words that all point to a young seminarian  who seemed to be sent up on mission to New York to literally “save a life.”

First, let us begin with the definition of a “cassock” worn by Roman Catholic Priests…..

The color of the ordinary Roman cassock and clerical attire in general is black.

For the regular parish priest, the cassock is totally black.  For the Holy Father, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and so on – the colors can change such as “white for the Holy Father“scarlet for Cardinals.” 

The symbolism of the cassock is as follows; The Roman collar symbolizes obedience; the Sash or cincture around the waist, chastity; and the color black, poverty.

Moreover, black is a color of mourning and death for the priest, the symbolism is dying to oneself to rise and serve the Lord as well as giving witness of the Kingdom yet to come.

There are also 33 buttons on the cassock representing the 33 years of the life of Jesus.

The Code of Canon Law still requires “clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical garb in accord with the norms issued by the conference of bishops and in accord with legitimate local custom” (No. 284). In our very secular world, the wearing of clerical garb continues to be a visible sign of belief and of the consecration of one’s life to the service of the Lord and His Church.

Checking on a Neighbor

This blog literally began late last night when I saw my neighbor’s porch lights on and decided to send over a quick text to see if she was okay. The text I received back “blew my mind” for the rest of the night and I dwelled on it until I fell asleep.

Upon waking this morning, I believe I was led by the Lord to present this story to all of you today as it was related to me without using personal names.

Setting the Background

My neighbor’s son is a seminarian for the “Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter’s – North American Seminary in Nebraska.”

While home on break recently for his mid-semester break, one of the priests back in Nebraska passed away. He could not get back to Nebraska for the Funeral Mass but neither could 16 other seminarians who were also home on break with their families here on the east coast.  They all decided to attend Mass together in New York City to pray for the priest who had passed away.

One of the young adults hailed from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and had never been to Manhattan to see the beautiful historic Churches and so he was invited to stay over at my neighbor’s home for a couple of days to visit these sacred places with his fellow brother seminarian.

I would also like to point out that “Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter’s Seminarians” wear their cassocks at all times after their first year.

The Train Station

When it was time for this young man to return back to his home in Lancaster, he was dropped off by my neighbor’s son at a local train station on Long Island in order to get him to Manhattan to catch a connection back home.

The words below that are in italics are the words of the young man to my neighbor’s son and then related to me.  I have changed his words to the present tense to make it easier to read and understand.

The Seminarian’s Witness

While standing at the station, a man approached me and said, “Father, please pray for me – I am going to kill myself!”  I had no time to correct the man and tell him I was not a priest, so I quickly responded  –  “Yes, I will pray for you!”  I then saw that the man was running towards the tracks and indeed jumped onto them.

This man was trying to reach the middle track where there was an oncoming train.  I jumped down onto the tracks and wrestled with the man who was determined to put himself in front of the oncoming train.  Two other men came to assist and the three of us were able to get him off the tracks – saving his life.”

My Neighbor’s Words

“Were it not for the cassock that the seminarian wore, it is unlikely that the distressed man would have approached him at all.

Yes….this young seminarian saved the man’s life, spared the train engineer from the anguish of taking a life on the tracks and “reminded” this gallant young man of the “power of the priesthood and of God.”  That cassock represented Jesus and the distressed man sought out Jesus for help.”

What is Happening in Our World?

This past summer two young men in their mid-thirties took their lives.  They were cousins and it was just one week between their untimely deaths.  In fact, one of them attended the wake of his cousin before taking his own life.

Another young man also in his mid-thirties also chose the same path and left behind a grieving family.

Why?  We have no idea what truly brought them to that moment of despair.  They were so loved by their families and friends!  Is it a “world gone mad?” that brought no hope into their lives?  We will never know.

What was missing in their hearts to bring them to such a place of desolation?  We, who are left behind, cannot fully understand what transpires in the minds of those who wish to end their lives prematurely and leave loved ones behind.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

The “man in distress” sought out the “cassock” and asked for prayers.  He not only got the prayers of that young seminarian but he also got “his physical help” and the help of the other men.

This image appealed to my heart because – yes – there is darkness in the tunnel  of this world but there is always, always “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Who is the Light?

It is Jesus! 

In Him – there  is always hope, there is always love, there is always someone to reach out to.

Reach Out Now!  Reach Out for Life! Reach Out for Comfort and Consolation.

Seek out a Priest – whether he be dressed in a “black cassock” or “plain black clerics.”  He’s there waiting for you in your local Parish Church.  If you do not feel comfortable doing that at this moment, reach out to family members, neighbors, close friends, co-workers but REACH OUT.


As you can see very clearly – that young seminarian had a mission to arrive in Manhattan for the precise moment that he would be needed – to save a life.  He was asked by this man in desolation to pray for him.  He did more than that! He saved his life.

How To Save a Life

In 2005 the group “Fray” wrote a song entitled, “How to Save a Life.”  The track of that same name found its way to the tv show – “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The song was written about a boy who was losing friends and going through depression. He lost his best friend and could not deal with it. The verses of the song describe an attempt by an adult to confront a troubled teen. In the chorus, the singer laments that he himself was unable to save a friend because he did not know how.

We do not know how….but Jesus does.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  He is the only way.  He will point us in the right direction – the Path of Life.

The Sisters of Life

This morning I came across a “Litany of Let Love” by The Sisters of Life.  I would like to quote just a few lines from their Litany to end this blog and also to those who may be in a “dark place”. . .where they feel no hope -pray these words from your heart.

Guaranteed, they will be heard and answered…..

Father, good and ever-faithful. . .

Jesus, Savior ever-merciful. . .

Holy Spirit, well-spring of true life and love. . .

I give You permission.

Reign in my heart, mind, soul, and life.

Let Your Love come into my past, present and future. 

Let Your Love unfold in me.

That I Let Love reveal who I am,


in Whose Image

I’ve been made,

Father me!

That I Let Love define me,


in Whose Likeness

I’ve been formed,

shape me.

That I Let Love

with courage and hope,


to Whose glory

I’ve been called,

be my strength.

I dedicate this Blog in Memory of the  “Three” Young Men

Raymond, Jr.,  Christopher and Sebastian

May They All Rest in Peace

in The Lord’s Loving Hands.

And may their parents and families feel the

Consolation and Love of Jesus in their own lives.


©2024 Anita Guariglia

Featured Image – and “Light at the End of the Tunnel” Pexels

Cassock image  – Instagram

Cassock definition:

St. Clare of Montefalco Parish in Detroit and Grosse pointe Park Michigan

The Sisters of Life – “Litany of Let Love




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