Our Father Who Art in Heaven
// George DeTellis, Jr.
In 1976 I was a 15-year-old sophomore at West Boylston High School. My English teacher, Mr. Kendall, caught me cheating on an exam and gave me an F grade.
Then, I missed two exams, and by April I ended up in a situation where I was going to have to repeat sophomore English. Struggling and in with the wrong group of kids, I convinced my parents to let me move to Worcester and live alone in an apartment inside of our church at 135 Belmont Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. We were already planning to sell our house and move to Worcester. I transferred from West Boylston to the Worcester school district. Our church was in the inner city, and I was sent to North High School Annex. It was a school just for high school sophomores that met in an ancient building on Walnut Street in downtown Worcester. That was the last year the building was used for a public school. As a small boy who was an outsider to these city kids, I was an easy target. I started to skip school. One morning around 10:00 the phone at the church was ringing. I answered the phone, and it was Ellen from the school office calling to ask why George was not in school today. I replied, “George needs to help me do some work today.” She said, “OK. Be sure he is in school tomorrow.” The next day she called again and asked why George was not in school. I replied, “George needs to help me work again today.” She yelled back, “George, you get down to this school right now!” I hung up on her. I was caught. I decided to run away. I knew a Christian guy who had played the guitar for my Dad at some Christian events. I knew where he lived in Southbridge, and hitchhiked to his home…showing up at his door with a suitcase filled with clothes. He was friendly and welcoming. After a few days, he said I should call my father. I did... but would not tell him where I was... but agreed to call him again. By the end of the week, it was time to go home. I called my Dad, and he suggested we meet for lunch at a famous seafood restaurant on Main Street in Worcester. Dad was all love and didn̓t ask any questions. We had a big lunch together—all smiles and laughs—the prodigal son had come home. I never went back to high school. Fortunately, my father did live to see me graduate as I walked across the stage at Rollins College to receive my Master̓s degree in Business Administration in 2002. Dad was proud that day.
There is a legend of an old story about a father and his son. They had a disagreement. Francisco, whose nickname was Paco, ran away from home. The father searched desperately through the streets of Madrid, Spain, looking for his son. Finally he put an advertisement in the local newspaper El Liberal, that said, “Dear Paco, Meet me in front of the hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven. I love you - Your Father.” At noon, eight hundred boys named Paco showed up! All of them wanted to be forgiven by their fathers. The same is true of our Father in Heaven. He sends the same message. “All is forgiven. I love you! Come home.” ~George DeTellis, Jr.