Type to search

Catholic Life Features

Singer has spiritual encounter at January Buffalo Bills game


Cory James Gallagher, a tenor vocalist who performs around Western New York and music minister at SS. Columba-Brigid Parish in Buffalo, shares a faith experience he had at the Jan. 8 Bills games at Highmark Stadium.

Cory James Gallagher (left) and Amir, (Photo courtesy of Cory James Gallagher)

For some reason I felt I needed to buy a ticket to this game. Now I understand why. There is a special energy stirring at One Bills Drive this past week, and it is rippling and moving through our region like wildfire. Maybe God is trying to tell us something.

That is what an Epiphany is all about. This Sunday marks the official end of our Christmas season, where so much has been stirring in Western New York and Buffalo – especially after this holiday marked one of the darkest times in our region’s history. Over 40 members of our community literally froze to death in a historic blizzard. And so many heroes stepped up to the plate to save their brothers and sisters from disaster.

This photo is of me and Ameer, a random encounter at the game that would end up speaking volumes to this deeper energy that is stirring amongst the Bills and their fans this past week. 

An energy that Josh Allen referred to after the game as “a spiritual experience.”

In the last quarter of the game, I decided to buy a bottle of water from this gentleman working behind the concession stand. I immediately felt pulled towards him like a magnetic force was drawing us.

While I was paying for my order I asked him how his day was going. He thanked me for taking the time to ask him that. 

So many times we just operate on automatic and don’t realize we are standing in the presence of another human being that has dignity, and most likely internal struggles that none of us would ever know about.

I was struck by how kind and present he was to me, and commented to him that he had a special energy and should keep smiling. It truly makes a difference in the world. I told him that he has a special gift. He gets to share his spirit and smile with thousands of people when he works the concession stand at a game. And that each person that he comes in contact with matters. Each person deserves “the time of day.”

I told him I felt my dad sent me to him to share this message because he too shared that gift. He always gave everybody the “time of day” and his philosophy was “Strangers no more.” He never let somebody pass by without giving them his full presence, and often made friends in the most random places.

Ameer then reached over the concession stand counter and grabbed both my hands. We shared a profound and timeless moment. He held both of my hands tightly, and looked me deep into my eyes, and said he needed to share something with me.

I don’t think I was prepared for what he would say.

He vulnerably told me, “I feel you came to me for a reason – that God sent you to me –because my son should be here working, but I’m covering for him. He is at home under hospice care, paralyzed from an inoperable brain tumor.”

We gazed into each other’s eyes and literally shared in that sacred moment together. I couldn’t believe my ears. While standing in the halls of Highmark Stadium amidst all the hustle and bustle of the crowds and noise, we stayed completely present to each other. Tears welled up in our eyes and fell down our cheeks. We then took time to pray together for his son.

We just absorbed the profound moment for a while and then I shared that I’m a professional singer. I often sing at the bedsides of the sick and dying. We then both realized there was so much more to our sacred connection than we first realized. 

Evidence of prayers and love for Damar Hamlin are everywhere, including the streets of East Aurora.

I shared with him that I have come to learn that each soul on earth has a specific purpose and a destiny, and there is nothing we can do to interfere with somebody’s destiny. 

We will never know the deeper mystery to why some people leave here early and some stay. Each person comes here to play a vital role in the tapestry of life. Some people come here to teach us something valuable, then they move on to the next world.

He then came out from behind the stand to give me a hug and we shared some tears and more moments of deeper connection and conversation. 

I shared with him how something very special is stirring right now with Damar Hamlin and the Bills. It’s showing our city the true meaning of life. That winning a Super Bowl is not what we originally thought it was cracked up to be. Ultimately, what matters most is how we treat each other; that the spirit of love and kindness can move mountains and literally save somebody’s life.

After this encounter I went back to my seat and the Bills clinched their victory over the Patriots. As everybody was leaving the stadium, I felt drawn to let everybody go ahead of me and take a step back to breathe in the moment and just be present. 

I went into an empty row and noticed the team had all gathered in the middle of the field on their knees to pray. A dove then emerged over my head and flew over the whole stadium. The dove is the symbol for the Holy Spirit – the third member of the Holy Trinity of God. It also represents God moving through us to bring love and light to the world. The number 3 again making its presence known.

The Epiphany honors the Three Kings that came to pay homage to a newborn Prince of Peace. I also noticed how this sweet and innocent boy in front of me was holding a sign that said “#3 prayers for Damar Hamlin.” I certainly had been given three special signs too. He held that sign so proudly the entire game. I couldn’t see what was on the other side until I took the time to talk with him and to ask him to show me his sign. His proud and innocent smile in the video says it all.

That is truly the biggest Christmas and Epiphany Miracle and gift we could ever ask for. The biggest present we can give anybody is our presence.


You Might also Like