Teen kayaks to confirmation after disabled train blocks the way

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Not even a disabled train stuck on the tracks that cross the only road out of his neighborhood could keep Finnbarr O’Reilly from making it to his confirmation ceremony at St. John the Baptist Church in Front Royal Nov. 5.

His father, Frank O’Reilly, founder of Petrine Construction, said a train broke down on the tracks at 6:30 a.m., and hadn’t moved by the time Finnbarr was supposed to leave for church.

“Obviously God gave us a means to get there, which was super nice,” said Finnbarr.

“I was a little desperate,” Finnbarr said. He had no idea how he was going to make it to the church on time. His older sister, who happened to be his confirmation sponsor, lives on a farm across the river on the other side of the tracks. Finnbarr, prepared to take the confirmation saint’s name of St. Isidore the Farmer, set out to cross the Shenandoah in a kayak, destination: a farm.

“It was pretty simple, not anything that dramatic,” Frank said. Finnbarr’s sister then drove him to the church.

Some people attending the 11 a.m. confirmation ceremony were able to walk across the tracks. Eventually, the O’Reilly family was able to cross when the stalled cars were separated, and they made it to the church on time for the confirmation celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Richard B. Higgins of the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

“Obviously God gave us a means to get there, which was super nice,” said Finnbarr.

The kayak outing gave him an opportunity that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. “If I had taken a car, it would have been a mad rush,” he said. “It gave me quiet time to spend before the confirmation.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016

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