WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Father Vincent Druding of Church of the Assumption in Peekskill has a message to teenagers out there: YOLO.
YOLO, You Only Live Once, has become a popular phrase since it was coined in a song by rapper Drake in 2011. Druding is hoping to turn the phrase on its head to remind people how precious and important life is.
In the last three months, Druding has conducted funeral services for three young men who died of heroin overdoes, including Cortlandt residents Thomas Coogan and Tyler Seger.
"The YOLO message is destructive," Druding said. "I am concerned heroin is becoming mainstream. It used to be rare drug for hardcore drug addicts."
Druding said he has seen good kids get caught up in the culture of partying, graduating from marijuana to pills to heroin.
"If you use it three or four times, you can become addicted to life, unless you get into a strong program," Druding said. "There's a lot of suffering. It can kill you. I have seen that with good kids and I don't want others to get sucked in."
Druding said kids listening to music can start thinking about doing things they wouldn't do.
"They behave in a way that is not their true self," Druding said. "These wicked and destructive addictions are really affecting youth."
The priest said if people should their live trying to help people, especially if someone is dealing with drug addiction.
"Bring them to a recovery program or to a priest," Druding said. "Bring them to God. These people facing these wounds need to know they are loved. Live your life as a gift to others instead of hurting yourself."
Druding said he found it powerful when he interacts with grieving parents. Druding's brother was a drug addict. His father battled alcoholism.
"My heart goes out to these parents," Druding said. "It is humbling, rewarding and sorrowful. There is no greater pain than to lose a child. It's very rewarding to bring God's love into this sorrowful situation."
Druding said he enjoys listening to the parents tell stories about their kids when they were at their best.
"They wanted to love and be loved," Druding said.