By Jim Gauger
Special to the CS&T

Members of St. Katharine of Siena Parish in Wayne held a prayer vigil Tuesday evening for a 12-year-old boy, a seventh-grade student at the parish school, who nearly drowned in a Radnor Creek during a rain storm Monday night, July 25. The student’s identity has not been disclosed because he is a minor.

The boy and two of his friends tried to ride a raft on the suddenly swollen creek, according to a report on the web site. The boy is currently undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“I heard about it after Tuesday’s 8 a.m. Mass,” said Msgr. Hans Brouwers, parochial administrator of the parish. “We have a grotto at the parish and several people asked if we could say the rosary. We had about 100 people show up at 11 o’clock that morning, and they prayed the sorrowful mysteries with great dedication.”

St. Katharine’s normally holds a 7 p.m. Tuesday service to pray the rosary, and Msgr. Brouwers was asked if that could be turned into a prayer service for the boy. Ann Condello, the secretary for the school, coordinated an e-mail alert to parishioners. Sister Kathleen Callaghan, S.S.J., coordinator of parish life and ministry, and Msgr. Brouwers put together the half-hour prayer service.

“We had about 800 people,” he said. “The church was full. People came from vacation, the mountains and the shore. It was truly inspirational. We have a very strong community with long-standing, strong faith.”

The mother of the injured boy was able to participate in the prayer service through the efforts of Jeanne Mulvanerty, the home and school president. Mulvanerty used her cell phone and the church’s hearing-impaired system, that included an ear piece held to the phone, to reach the boy’s mother in the hospital.

Msgr. Brouwers has spoken with the boy’s parents and the father of one of the other boys. According to Msgr. Brouwers, the boys were playing in a pool in the backyard of one of the boys when the storm, which caused torrential flooding in the area, hit.

The creek runs through the yard. ‘They brought the raft to the creek; they thought it would be fun,” he said. “It’s a typical 12-year-old thing. I would have done the same thing.”

The creek goes into a tunnel, which is where the boys got into trouble. “The two other boys tried to save him,” Msgr. Brouwers said. “One of the boys stopped a car and it turned out to be a neighbor, the wife of a doctor. Her husband came to the boy’s help.”

Msgr. Brouwers visited the boy in the hospital Wednesday. “He’s receiving the best of care,” he said. “Everybody continues to reassure the family. It’s truly inspirational. It’s faith at work at the moment.”

Jim Gauger is a freelance writer and a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Glenside.