Ruby Gray
Ruby Gray
It’s not supposed to happen. Teenage girls don’t die in their sleep, do they?

But Jesuit High School has had to come to terms with the reality. Ruby Gray, a junior who had traveled last fall to Philadelphia to be with Pope Francis, died on Good Friday after a day of blissful inner tubing in Sun Valley, Idaho.

There’s no explanation for such sadness. We can only say that Ruby’s effect on the world is remembered. Hundreds of Jesuit students went on a memorial hike after learning of the tragedy. They filled balloons, wrote messages to Ruby on them, and let them float into the sky. They packed the gym for a vigil at which dozens of student stood and gave testimony. Students sang in Ruby’s honor. Then her funeral filled the gym again.

Ruby, who had joined the church just a year before, was an energetic advocate of Catholic social justice. Paul Hogan, Jesuit’s principal, recalls how she wanted a fundraising walk for the Portland-based Children’s Cancer Association to include more than just Jesuit High School; she reached out to her many All Saints School classmates at Central Catholic and brought together rivals to do good.

Ruby became Catholic through her freshman year religion class with Jesuit Father Paul Grubb, also her ski coach. He encouraged the skiers to offer their efforts on Mount Hood’s runs as a prayer of gratitude. Ruby began to see God’s handiwork everywhere, including in herself. Once that happened, it was as if sparks kept flying.

Just weeks before her shocking death, Ruby was planning another benefit walk for next fall. We are confident that her spirit, which has so inspired her peers, will help carry it off.