Monday, May 31, 2010

Eye exam tomorrow

Tomorrow, as Pat Gohn has predicted, I will be going to Harvard University Medical Schools, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary for an exam. I will let you know how it goes.
 I had a beautiful Memorial Day with friends, crowning Our Lady, and attending Mass for the Feast of the Visitation.
I feel those prayers, keep them coming.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

I need your prayers

My opthamologist says I need to remove a mole behind my right eye. Right away.
It might be cancer. It looks like a melanoma.

I am offering up any suffering I have to go through for the success of my book, which is nearly ready to go to press. "A Special Mother is Born".
Please join me in asking Servant of God Dr Jerome Lejeune for his heavenly intercession for my healing.
Read about his love for children with Down syndrome in my article here.

Let us pray
God who created man in Your image and intended him to share Your Glory, we thank Your for having granted to Your Church the gift of Professor Jerome Lejeune, a distinguished Servant of Life.

He knew how to place his immense inteligence and deep faith at the service of the defense of human life, especially unborn life, always seeking to treat and to cure. A passionate witness to  truth and charity, he knew how to reconcile faith and reason in the sight of today's world. 
By his intercession, and according to Your will, we ask You to grant us the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon become one of Your saints.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Join US in a Family Walk for Life

Sun June 6. 1- 4 P.M

We are anxiously waiting on the approval or rejection of our lease for of an empty building in the Diocese of Norwich for our first Ave Maria Maternity Home. Please pray for the success of our lease, as it makes its way to church authorities. Although valuable time is going by and we are not able to work on the physical building, everyone is anxious to get going with the kitchen and bath renovations.

The need for this Home is so great; it would quickly be filled by 10 homeless pregnant women who are presently living on the street and under bridges in Eastern Connecticut. Raising the money for the salaries of employees of our home is an important function for which we need your help. As we have stated many times before, required licensing of the State of Connecticut and must have one year’s salaries in the bank. Visit us on our Website www.avemariahome/info.

Please join us on June 6, 2010 at St Joseph Church basement, Willimantic for a Walk for Life.

It is a joint fundraiser for Birthright and Ave Maria Home. Walk for women in Crisis- JOIN US in the Joy of Life… Walk for Life! Our goal is 100 walkers for Life.

An equal amount of proceeds will go to the Ave Maria Home or you may make your pledges or check for

Ave Maria Home. The Walk-A-Thon will take place from 1-4 pm at St. Joseph's Church in Willimantic. The walk will be 1-5 miles long depending on desire and ability. The event will include entertainment, refreshments and opportunities to rest throughout the route. We are looking for people to sponsor walkers, work the rest stops, help with refreshments, and participate as walkers. We are requesting participants to complete a pledge form and collect donations from sponsors, which should be brought to the walk-a-thon. However, please do not let the lack of sponsors or donations discourage anyone from participating. We invite anyone to join us in the walk to demonstrate their support for Life. Call Debbie at 860-456-2491 or Sheila Taylor at 860-429-3283.

If you have any questions or would like more information please do not hesitate to contact us at (860)456-9495. Thank you in advance for your support! We look forward to having you join us in this fun-filled event.

The Ave Maria election of new officers and board of Directors was held on May 2010. We have added three outstanding individuals to our Board of Directors: Dr. Lorraine Hartnett, Ellen Bianchini and Kristen Bothur.

Our 2010 slate of officers is Darlene Wagner, Chairman- Leticia Velasquez, Co Chairman; Claudia Cantani, Treasurer; Sheila Taylor, Secretary. Congratulations to all! We thank all our board members in the past for their time and energy. If you are ready to dedicate your time in Christ-filled mission of help for pregnant women in crisis, you might consider joining our board of directors. Please contact any Board member or call Darlene Wagner 860-456-3165 or Sheila Taylor, Secretary. Address for email contact is or send to Ave Maria Home,

Box 166,122 Valley St.,
 Willimantic CT. 06226.

God Bless,

Sincerely For Life, Darlene Wagner,
 Ave Maria Home

Pledge forms, Posters, Newsletter files are included

Please Join Us in a Family Walk for Life
St Joseph Church, 99 Jackson Street, Willimantic, 06226
Sunday June 6, 1-4 P.M

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St Joseph Church, Willimantic, CT

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why I moved to Connecticut

We had become isolated from like minded Catholics on Long Island, when my friends fled south en masse. We needed a Catholic community. Since September 2008, we have been living in Eastern CT, close to the Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Griswold, attending Holy Mass at St Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Baltic, with the famlies of these wonderful wholesome Catholic teens  (See Derek in the 11 on my own documentary in my previous post).
Now my beautiful daughter Gabbi (see the BIG smile on her face?) is being courted by Derek, who turns 18  in June, two days after she turns 17 (Do I hear, "You are 16, going on 17"?). Next to Derek is Sarah, and his sister Courtney, Gabbi's two best friends. We were celebrating the college graduation of Chris and John Duda, other members of our community, who had a massive party capped by a sing along around the campfire. What a wonderful evening it was.
In two weeks, we all will be camping in a state park singing and praying the rosary around the campfire, with about 300 other Catholic campers, for the annual Catholic camp-ar-ee.
How blessed we are to live here!
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11 on my own documentary

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Friday, May 21, 2010

A sneak peek into my book

If I am not blogging much these days, its because I am treasure-hunting. I am contacting Catholic authors who happen to be special mothers and asking them to contribute to my book "A Special Mother is Born". Maybe you know someone who is gifted in writing, and has a story to add to the book. Maybe it's you!
Contact me in the comments below.

Here is my latest find, a rare jewel of a poem from one of those living saints you see in church, infinitely patient, with eyes that see heaven while she extends her hand to steady her son's shoulders. Her name is Mary von Schlegell. Mary is in her eighties, and is caring for her son Tony, in his forties, at home. Tony has Down syndrome and since he was born before the educational advances which our children enjoy today, the only word he has ever spoken is “Mama”.


As you my child are the limitation

So are you the sweetest consolation of my life

And imitation of our Lord.

Clearer than all in my heart,

Your hands marked with the strange line

Raise, raise my compassion

Cling around my heart.

Oh beautiful calm face

So small, so quiet beside me,

You have kept me from destruction,

Oh how can we ever fathom

The strange economy of a loving God;

Why does our trust so often fail

With salvation springing even here along our path?

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

A positive use of advertising

Aren't you sick of commercials urging you to buy products to make you thinner, your eyes more beautiful or your house more fragrant?
Here is an advertising campaign that not only brightens lives, but may actually save some.Two agencies—Pedone Advertising in New York, and York & Chapel in Milford, Conn.—conducted the "My Great Story" ad campaign for the National Down Syndrome Society.

 By telling the inspiring stories of successful self advocates with Down syndrome, these two advertisers have discovered that is in givng that we receive; by putting a human face on those who have been stigmatized, marginalized and marked for destruction before birth, these advertising agencies have been transformed. Those of us raising such wonderful children experience this every day; still it's wonderful to watch the experience unfold, especially in Madison Avenue types.
They speak of this experience here; in Advertising Age.
Spend some time with a self-advocate, and you'll feel a change coming over you. People with Down syndrome are funny. They fall in love. They have jobs and careers. Talk to them for a bit, and you'll see they have day-to-day problems, dreams and things they don't like to do. In fact, they are just like me and you.

Oh, and one other thing: Some of them have great stories.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Novena for Penecost

In his homily today, Fr Tito said that as all the beauty and art in the world is made with only the seven colors in the rainbow, all the spiritual good in the world is done with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Join me in praying for those gifts to be infused into the work I am finishing, my book "A Special Mother is Born".
Here is the entire  novena from EWTN. Here are the prayers for each day.
Here is the prayer for the First Day.

FIRST DAY (Friday, 6th Week of Easter)
Holy Spirit! Lord of Light! From Your clear celestial height, Your pure beaming radiance give!

The Holy Spirit
Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared--sin· Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for "The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us."

Let us pray,
Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Spirit, and hast given us forgiveness all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us your sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.

Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

Act of Consecration, Prayer for the Seven Gifts

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth."

To be recited daily during the Novena

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit.

(To be recited daily during the Novena)

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, special moms!

After a long time gathering stories of Catholic moms of special needs children, I will finally publish my book "A Special Mother is Born" this summer with WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

I dedicate it the book to the Mother of Mothers, Our Lady, and to all you mothers out there who are unsung saints, caring for ill and disabled children with love and patience which far surpass my own.

Happy Mother's Day.

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KIDS at the March for Life 2010

Here is a link to my  latest inteview on "The Face of Pro-life" television show.
I discussed my experience in Washington DC as an advocate for children with Down synrome, as co-founder of KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome).

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May is the month of Mary

This is the month of Mary and we are celebrating the Blessed Mother by; saying a daily rosary (trying to make it a habit that sticks), building a Mary garden here at our new home, and attending a delightful concert of Marian hymns called "Songs of Mary" at the Cathedral of St Patrick in Norwich.

It was performed cooperatively with the cathedral choir and the Schola of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of the Church. Latin motets by de Victoria, ancient chant, favorites from "The Sound of Music"(the beautiful Latin hymns Preludium and Alleluia which  the nuns sing in the beginning of the film).

It was sublime, Christina slept soundly on my lap, and I enjoyed the music while contemplating the magnificent gothic cathedral, and meditating on Our Lady and special needs children.

I will be reviewing their upcoming CD, Heart of God, to be released May 20.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I came to you late

I am reviewing my friend Kristin Luscia's book "11 On My Own" and it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes.

"I came to You late, O Beauty so ancient and new. I came to love You late. You were within me and I was outside where I rushed about wildly searching for You like some monster loose in Your beautiful world. You were with me but I was not with You. You called me, You shouted to me, You wrapped me in Your Splendour, You broke past my deafness, You bathed me in Your Light, You sent my blindness reeling. You gave out such a delightful fragrance and I drew it in and came breathing hard after You. I tasted, and it made me hunger and thirst; You touched me, and I burned to know Your Peace."

St. Augustine of Hippo

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Time for Dr Ray again

I haven't mentioned that I now live with five, count 'em five teenagers in my house. How did that happen? Well, it all starts with my sister in law, seventeen year old Milagros who was languishing in her brother's place on Long Island. A year ago, she and her older brother Manuel, age 20, immigrated to the US. We had been waiting for them for years, as their mother sponsored them. She was not learning English, not going to school or Mass, or making friends, just watching TV and eating. Miserable. Utterly miserable.
As a mother and an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher of 20 years, I couldn't stand the thought of a young girl wasting her life like this, while living within the chaotic household of a brother whose 'domestic partnership' was spinning out of control (don't get me started).
So we moved her up to Connecticut, and she attended the Academy of the Holy Family with Gabbi. Then we saw the same syndrome with her brother, who failed his ESL class due to his 30 year old brother's terrible example. He had failed that class twice, first when I taught it to him in 2002 and AGAIN in 2009. Enough is enough, I decided, and brought him up after Christmas. Both Manuel and Milagros realized that they wanted good jobs which required education, and that their brother Jose was not going anywhere because of his lazy attitude towards learning. Now they attend weekly Mass, youth group, ESL classes, Manuel has a good paying job, and both are timidly attempting to be part of our bilingual family. We are nearing successful integration.
So now, I had Gabbi, age 16, Milagros, 17, Bella 12, Manuel, 20 and one January day when I was hoarse from Scarlet fever, a friend who has an 18 year old daughter who was not doing well in school, asked if she could board with us and attend the Academy as well. I said yes. Now Elena, age 18 completes my collection of teenagers. Add a petulant 8 year old Christina and you have yourself a challenge to discipline. What was I thinking you say? I don't know, sometimes I say 'yes' too quickly however, this time I was right because the grace of daily Mass is carrying me through this.
It has had it's ups and downs, yet, sparing  you the lurid details, I will merely say that I have had to be more rigid in this boarding school atmosphere, by establishing myself as queen of the castle, better known as "She who maketh the rules and enforceth them. Or else."  But I needed some help  drawing the line on teenage 'tudes.

Enter my saviour, Dr Ray Guarendi, whose 10 kids include five teens with backgrounds which make the most experienced mother shudder. I figured he'd have the answers and yesterday, on a long drive, to Isabella's doctor,  we were listening to his CD at Lighthouse Media, with our sides hurting from laughter.

 His main point is that we need to take the reins from the so called experts who told us we are 'parenting neanderthals' because we believe in things like right and  wrong, And want our children to be virtuous, God seeking, self sacrificing adults. We have to make rules and ENFORCE THEM. Over and over and over and over. ...till their little hormone-addled brains get it. I'm boss, they're not. Period.
And they better give me R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
So, tonight,  when Bella decided she could get away with yelling at me for my 'behavior', she landed a 200 word essay on why that was wrong. She did it, and I think felt unexpectedly proud of the result. . 'It was wrong to yell at Mom, it hurt her feelings, it was disrespectful, it broke the Fourth Commandment. Jesus didn't like it, because it is mean, the Blessed Mother didn't like it because it was disrespectful, St Therese didn't like it. . . all the way to God the father, who was watching and wasn't pleased. "
It took half the Litany of Saints to reach 200 words! Sound familiar, Dr Ray fans?
She was copying Dr Guarendi's description of one of his son's essays. A wise-apple move, to be sure,  BUT it got her attention and reminded her of something important. The Lord and His saints DO care about how she treats her mother, AND that I am not the meanest mother in the world; Mrs Guarendi must be a real ogre!
As my mother used to scream at the top of her lungs when things got out of hand in the Crafa house, "you don't have to like me, but YOU MUST RESPECT ME". 
Thank God I DID learn to respect Mom, follow the rules she set, no matter how silly it seemed to have table manners when you were sitting accross from your wrestling little brothers. Now I understand the value in raising disciplined young adults, who can accommplish their dreams in this world, and meet their loved ones in the next. Speaking of loved ones in the hereafter,
Good for you, Mom. Thanks for the intercession.
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