Monday was a difficult and solemn day for many around Boston, including Father Chip Hines.
He, like several thousand baseball fans, also found some solace in the Red Sox game later that night.
Guarantee his day was tougher than yours, though. As the parish priest at St. Joseph Roman Catholic church on High Street in Medford, it was his obligation and privilege to offer the funeral mass for Krystle Campbell in the morning.
Campbell, 29, who lived in Arlington, Medford and Somerville during her brief but brilliant life, perished last Monday at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
For Fr. Hines, 45, this was both a personal and professional challenge.
But not a spiritual one.
"I just let the Holy Spirit take over," he told the OBF blog in a lengthy conversation Tuesday. Fr. Hines [at left] was not technically the chief officiant of the Mass, since Cardinal O'Malley was in attendance. But it was his Fr. Hines' task to not only perform the majority of the service - which was closed to the media and cameras at the family's request - but also do his best to comfort the Campbell family and those who knew and loved Krystle dearly.
All of this under the watchful eyes of his boss, the Cardinal, more than a thousand mourners, the Campbell family and - of course - the Big Man Upstairs.
"Having the Cardinal there was comforting, but I also had butterflies. It's not often we work in front of our bosses like that," Hines said.
Hines has been a priest at St. Joe's since last July. He came from a parish in Wrentham. The service, from all accounts, was beautiful, solemn and comforting to those in attendance.
Talk about performing in the clutch.
"I spoke to her parents [Patricia and William Campbell Jr.] and her brother, [Billy] for about an hour on Friday. They told me all about her and I shared it with the congregation Monday. "
Fr. Hines relayed those words here verbatim, as he did during Monday's service.
“Unselfish. Kind. Always willing to help. Always put herself last. Hard worker. Couldn’t say no. Always smiling. Adventurous. No trouble. Try anything once. Loved to dance. Took care of everyone, remembered birthdays and loved life.”
Fr. Hines said he's heard nothing negative about Campbell, which is to be expected when remembering a young life that was lost in such such an evil manner.
An R.I.P Krystle Campbell Facebook page has more than 75,000 likes and has been loaded with personal tributes and photos, including the shot of her above in the Tom Brady jersey. "But even in private, it's all good. She really was a wonderful person," Hines said. "I got an email from a State Trooper I know who knew Krystle when she worked for the Summer Shack in Hingham. He told me 'everything they're saying about Krystle is true.'"
As he writes in this week's church bulletin:
"With the possible exception of “loved to dance”, (but hey who knows) we can see the Christ like message of these descriptions. Jesus was unselfish, always willing to help, he put himself last, took care of everyone and loves life. Now that doesn’t mean we canonize Krystle, after all she was a human being, with all the flaws that come with being a human being ... but these words do provide us with the framework of how we can live our lives, still be flawed, but strive for an imitation of Christ."
But the Father knows words can only help so much.
"I didn't want to say too much, especially in my speech, because I knew no matter what I said, no matter how many kind words people say about her, no matter what I can say to her family, nothing is going to bring her back. I wish it would," he told the OBF blog.
So sad, so true.
As is the case for priests, pastors, rabbis, counselors or anyone who deals with human tragedy on a daily basis, their lives aren't completely defined by their work.
Fr. Hines was born in Medford and graduated from Reading High School in 1986. Like so many others from Greater Boston, Fr. Hines is a vocal and passionate Boston sports fan. His email address even includes a "33" in tribute to a certain hick from French Lick.
The father - and his father - had decided to attend the Red Sox game Monday - and shared that news via Twitter - after thanking so many followers for their thoughts and prayers.
This priest had a tough day...going to see @redsox with my dad...hope the seats are good!— Fr. Chip Hines (@Chines) April 22, 2013
"I posted on my Twitter account that I was going to the game," he recalled. "I was at dinner with my dad and the phone rang. I didn't answer because it was from an unrecognized number. I checked the message and it was a woman from the Red Sox. They wanted to know if we wanted to upgrade our seats."
Sure, why not?
"I met her at the gate and she took care of everything."
Instead of right-field box seats somewhere below the Budwesier sign for the fathers Hines, it was two tickets to the posh EMC club - with all the benefits.
Seats tonight twitter.com/Chines/status/…— Fr. Chip Hines (@Chines) April 22, 2013
"I don't know how it happened. I have no idea who said what to who - or how they got my number," he said. "But sometimes you have friends who have connections you don't know about. The Red Sox were really gracious to us. They asked for nothing and wanted no notoriety."
One example of sports helping the healing process - with the help of some unknown ticket angel - one priest at a time.
"Sports has been so important in the past week," Fr. Hines said. "You're gathering a lot of people in one place, whether it's at the Garden or Fenway Park, and it allows them that sort of civic moment where we're all together. It's kind of a concentrated moment. Sports in Boston is so important. We're indoctrinated from a young age. We follow them and bleed their colors and offers us an opportunity to come together and have some enjoyment even if it's just a moment for us to get together and talk and laugh."
That relief was never needed in Boston more than last Wednesday at the Garden. And again on Saturday back at the Garden and Fenway Park, Watching the Celtics in the playoffs and pondering the Patriots' moves in this week's draft was also part of the necessary return to normal.
We know where Boston's sports teams were in all of this, but where was God?
"That was my message on Sunday," Fr. Hines said. "The Good Shepherd was there on Monday. He was there in the EMTs. He was there the police and first responders who rushed in to help without concern for their safety. He was there in the people who aided the victims and in the medical personnel."
One of the most painful stats from this past week's murder and mayhem was that the four victims who died - and many of the seriously injured and amputee victims - were under 30 years old. Those who were killed - ranging from 8-year-old Martin, to 23-year-old Lingzi, to 27-year-old Sean to 29-year-old Krystle - had so much life unlived. Martin Richard and Sean Collier were laid to rest Tuesday and there was a memorial service for Lu Lingzi at BU Monday night.
Only the good die young, it seems. But why?
"That's a question that's way above my pay grade," Fr. Hines said. " The marathon brings out young people - it's an inexpensive and fun thing to do with your family and a moment of civic pride in Boston. People love it. Why does an 8-year-old boy or a 23-year-old girl from China go to a marathon? They were all there to cheer on human good. That' was a beautiful thing. Why do young people have do die like this? I wish I knew - there's no explaining it."
The feeling of community that's enveloped Boston and Massachusetts in the past eight days will fade, but not completely disappear, Fr. Hines said. "Uniting us around the common idea that when something happens to one of us -- it happens to all of us. That feeling will not go away."
So what did the Good Father think when David Ortiz dropped his historic f-bomb on Fenway Park Saturday. He said he wasn't offended in the least - and laughed out loud.
"It was perfect. It summed up Boston. Ortiz is not a native Bostonian. But he gets it," Fr. Hines said. "We all appreciated that the the Yankees played "Sweet Caroline," but we all want to still kick their ass."
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