Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Got a wonderful Catholic mom in your life?

Encourage her this Christmas by giving her this inspiring, upbeat book by Dorothy Pilarski;
Motherhood Matters. 

See my review here. 
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Think twice about dropping your donation into that Salvation Army kettle!

As a social worker in the eighties, I worked extensively with the Salvation Army, so I had a positive image of their good works, and regularly donated to their kettle campaign each Christmas. This all changed this week when Anita Crane, a reporter for World Net Daily sent me the Salvation Army's policy on abortion. It has loopholes which are unacceptable, too many babies fall through.

"The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of human life. Humankind was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). All people – without exception – are of value to him, holding a special place in his creation (Psalm 8:5), irrespective of age, gender, race, religion, health or social status, or their potential for achievement."
But it also states, "A serious commitment to the protection and care of the unborn calls us to a commitment to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy through means such as access to reliable birth control, safety in relationships, and societal respect of women."
Specifically, it says the Salvation Army "believes that termination [abortion] can occur only when carrying the pregnancy further seriously threatens the life of the mother; or reliable diagnostic procedures have identified a foetal abnormality considered incompatible with survival for more than a very brief post natal period."

My reaction is contained within the article, but here is the long version:
As a peer minister to women facing a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome, I have heard the horror stories of what the doctors tell women in order to convince them to abort their child. They are told their child will do nothing to help himself, will only live to 10 years of age, will be miserable, will make their siblings miserable, will never be able to tie her shoes, read, graduate high school, and ruin her parents' marriage. This information is patently false.

The truth is marriages last longer when a couple has a child with Down syndrome,according to this Vanderbuilt University Study, and more are graduating high school and college every day, thanks to inclusive education. No one can say how long a child will live based on information gathered pre-natally or what their IQ will be, and Dr Brian Skotko has just published the results of a survey in the American Journal of Medical Genetics saying how happy families who have a member with Down syndrome are.

I shared this in my article for the National Catholic Register;
“We mailed surveys to families around the country, and 3,150 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and people with Down syndrome responded. Here is just a sample of what we found:
• 99% of people with Down syndrome said they were happy with their lives;
• 97% of people with Down syndrome liked who they are;
• 99% of parents said they love their child with Down syndrome;
• 5% of parents felt embarrassed by their child;
• 97% of brothers/sisters, ages 9-11, said they love their sibling.”
Now, some would interpret Down syndrome in the definition given by the Salvation Army policy statement as "a foetal abnormality considered incompatible with survival for more than a very brief post natal period."

Some babies with Down syndrome do not live long. Some live for decades, outliving their parents.

Take another 'abnormality' trisomy 18. Most babies with t18 don't live to birth, that is true, but there are exceptions. Tell that to Rick Santorum whose three year old Bella Maria is still with us, and Mary Kellett of Pre-natal Partners for Life whose son Peter was a blessing to his family and the world till his recent death at 6 and 1/2 years.
So, if Salvation Army says abortion is OK for babies with abnormalities, most women facing such a diagnosis will be told by their health care professional that that includes them.

It is beneath the dignity of a Christian organization to allow innocent unborn children to be killed. It is beneath the God-given dignity of the babies to be told their lives can be cut short because their mother was raped (the other exception) or they are not perfect enough. If God only gives them life while in their mother's womb, who are we to cut it even shorter?

It is the position of KIDS Keep Infants with Down Syndrome that possessing an abnormal prenatal diagnosis does NOT lower the God-given dignity of a baby. We believe that all human life is sacred from conception till natural death, and if, in the tragic circumstance that a baby is destined to live only the briefest of times, only within a mother's womb or a few brief moments or days afterward, that we must give that child the full span of life and not end her life by abortion.

There is always the possibility of an incorrect diagnosis, so we must always decide on the side of life, and trust God with the life of our beloved child.
The Salvation Army should re-consider their position on this critical issue, as it is not consistent with a pro-life stance.
Let them live, Salvation Army. Let the babies live.

Support their moms if they feel that they can't do it alone, and give them hope for their child's future, if not here on earth, forever in eternity.
That is what we celebrate with the birth of the Christ Child, the birth of the giver of Eternal Life.

Send Salvation Army a message that you will not be donating until they revoke the loopholes in their abortion policy using this contact information:
Commissioner M. Christine MacMillan
The Salvation Army
International Social Justice Commission221 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022, USA
Phone: (212) 758-0763Email: IHQ-ISJC@salvationarmy.org

Read the entire article here.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Watch my talk tomorrow live at Family Resource Council

Follow this link to the live webcast at 12 noon EST. Please pray for me as I discuss Down syndrome; Disaster or Divine Smile?

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Museum of Motherhood Talk on "Genetic Diversity"

The talk where I introduced my concept of "genetic diversity" to a conference on multicultural motherhood, given Monday at the Museum of Motherhood in Manhattan was well received. Attendees were very enthusiastic about the idea of a new paradigm of perfection, one not based on flawlessness, but on wholeness, of fulfilling one's purpose in life, as introduced by Amy Julia Becker at her keynote address for the Down Syndrome Conference at Princeton University.
You can see my chatty talk here. 

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Upcoming talk at the Family Research Council

If you are in the Washington DC area, and would like to increase your awareness of the gifts offered by those with Down syndrome, please consider registering for a talk that I will be giving with Mark Bradford, Executive Vice President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
 We will address the new pre-natal test, MaterniT21 which is now available to expectant mothers and how it has the potential to eliminate people with Down syndrome from our society. Mr Bradford works with the Jerome Lejeune Foundation which supports promising research projects around the world seeking to improve the learning and memory of those with Down syndrome. 
We will share our personal testimonies as parents of children with Down syndrome, and why there's never been a better time in history to have a child with Down syndrome. 

Click here to register for the free event, held at the Family Research Council. 

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

I will be speaking at the Museum of Motherhood in NYC tomorrow

Multicultural Motherhood
Day Conference
Dec. 5th 9-4:30
Museum Of Motherhood
401 East 84th St. NYC 10028
Admission $55 pre-event l $74 day of conference

9:00-9:10 Museum Tour
9:10-9:30 Joy Rose: MotherhoodFoundation@gmail.com - Multicultural Motherhood through a magnifying glass – Incorporating tolerance and traditions through family & community experiences. Joy is the Founder and Executive Director of Museum Of Motherhood. Opening remarks, museum tour and presentation on the mission and context of the Museum Of Motherhood located in New York City, USA. As a Christian, married to a Jew and practicing Buddhism in the home, Joy's direct experience blending family traditions recognizes the unifying force is our connection to our humanity. Understanding, accepting and celebrating our differences will lead us into the future. The Museum Of Motherhood is a sacred space for birthers and caregivers, managing information in a local, community and global context. She is President and Founder of Mamapalooza Inc., a company by women, promoting mothers for social, cultural and economic benefit. Inspired by her experiences as a wife and mother in the arts, Joy is dedicated to championing opportunities for Mom-Artists, Educators and Entrepreneurs.
9:30-9:50 taraneh.shirazian@mssm.edu - Global Motherhood Presents, Saving Mothers. Saving Mothers is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to women's health, education and empowerment. Through public health initiatives, we aim to give women and their health care providers the tools they need to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, 
10 Minute Open Discussion

10-10:20 Rachel Ishofsky: rachel@jhafrica.org - Jewish Heart for Africa. Rachel Ishofsky is the Associate Executive Director of Jewish Heart for Africa, a non-profit organization that brings sustainable Israeli technologies to rural African villages. While studying art and literature at New York University, Rachel took some time to study and teach in West Africa, where she founded a small non-profit for street children. After graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in individualized study, she decided not to get her PhD as planned, and traveled the world instead, before returning to her native New York and joining the Jewish Heart for Africa team. Rachel has worked with various non-profits promoting the arts, education, and human rights. She speaks Hebrew and Spanish, has taught English on three continents and has traveled to over 30 countries. Rachel will be speaking about the challenges facing rural African mothers, from the unavailability of healthcare and maternity services at night without electricity, to the problem of not having vaccines to give to their children, to walking for hours to provide water for their families. She will also be speaking about the solutions to these challenges to be found in sustainable technologies.
10 Minute Open Discussion & Bathroom Break
10:30-10:50 Clare Misquitta: editor@brightsideglobaltrade.com: Healthcare For Multicultural Moms. Where are the resources for Multicultural Moms? Many multicultural moms don't get the care they need because of health disparities relating to ethnicity and race that are often ignored. Clare will share with you the facts and show you where you can find healthcare resources in America and Globally . Learn about healthcare disparities and join the movement to spread the word and help other multicultural moms. This session is devoted to my mom who passed away in 2000 in search of cancer cure. Clare has worked with the Museum of Motherhood since 2009 and is proud to speak at the Multicultural Mom event. She is a healthcare writer and her primary goal is to inspire the business community to build a sustainable world. She has traveled, worked and spoken across the Globe and has helped many leading pharmaceutical companies to build free educative healthcare programs for patients and the healthcare community. Her multicultural expertise extends to the African American, Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Malay, Laotian and Hmog), European and Canadian community.
10 Minute Open Discussion
11-11:20 Tanya Fields - Tanyadenisefields@gmail.com - the BLK ProjeK; Inspired by her experiences as a single working mother in a marginalized community Executive Director Tanya Fields created and founded the BLK ProjeK in 2009.Tanya used her experiences as an underserved, low income woman and mother to inform and enrich the work of several high profile local environmental organizations such Mothers on the Move, Sustainable South Bronx and Majora Carter Group. Tanya utilized her network, resources and knowledge to create the BLK Projek. The BLK ProjeK seeks to create economic development opportunities that address food justice, environmental justice and public and mental health issues. By empowering underserved women of color through political education, beautification of community spaces, urban farming and holistic health programming, by creating equal access to these enriching experiences for under-served women of color, we strengthen and empower our entire society.
10 Minute Open Discussion
11:30-11:50 Leticia Velasquez; marysjoys@yahoo.com - Adopting a New Paradigm of Cultural Diversity; How genetic diversity compliments cultural diversity. Leticia is the author of A Special Mother is Born an inspirational collection of stories from 34 parents of special needs children, and is a contributor to Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, and the award-winning Stories for the Homeschool Heart. She writes three blogs: Catholic Media Review, Cause of Our Joy and the award-winning Causa Nostrae Laetitiae. She posts on Down syndrome for Ehealth and Wellsphere. She is a correspondent for the National Catholic Register, a contributor to MercatorNet, Mamazina, Catholic Online, and a columnist for Catholic Mom. In 2008 Leticia co-founded KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome) to raise awareness of the unique gifts of people with Down syndrome to society. She has appeared on EWTN, and Canadian Television program "The Arena", and on various radio shows including NPR, The Drew Mariani Show, The Day Gardner Show, and Health Matters. She, her husband, and their four daughters live in rural Connecticut. Book signing to follow.
12- 12:50 LUNCH BREAK – Sponsored by The Food Emporium, Upper East Side
1:00-1:40 Dr. Phyllis Chesler, Mothers On Trial; PChesler@phyllis-chesler.com - Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York. She is an author, psychotherapist and an expert courtroom witness, with classics like Women and Madness, Women's Inhumanity to Woman, the 25th anniversary edition of Mothers On Trial, and so many more. She has lectured and organized political, legal, religious and human rights campaigns in the United States and in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. A popular guest on campuses and in national and international print, television, radio and online media, she has been an expert commentator on the major events of our time. She has lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, and in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. She currently resides in Manhattan. Dr. Chesler is co-founder of the still ongoing Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women’s Health Network (1974), and is a charter member of the Women’s Forum (1973-74). She is a charter member of the Veteran Feminists of America, a founder and Board member of the International Committee for the Women of the Wall (1989), as well as an affiliated Professor with Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities.

3:30-4:00 Elizabeth Mangum-Sarach, Director of Birthfocus: Birthfocus@gmail.com, presenting on Nomadic Motherhood (Short Film). Elizabeth Mangum-Sarach is the Director of BirthFocus, LLC, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, a Birth Doula Trainer through Dona International, a Labor Support Doula, and, in September 2011, she will be certified as New York City's first Fear to Freedom Facilitator! She has worked as a DONA certified labor support doula since 2004. She is the former Director of Maternal Health and Parenting Services at Inwood House, a non-profit that offers services to pregnant and parenting teens, and is responsible for developing their doula and childbirth education programs. She is an approved DONA International Birth Doula Trainer and offers trainings in NYC and internationally.

White Ribbon Alliance - (Short Film)

Conference Co-Coordinator Janae Seignious- Shields: JShields@goodwillny.org - Janae has a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in U.S. history from the State University of New York at Oswego and a Master’s of Social Work from Monmouth University with a concentration in International and Community Development. She is a Class III Green for All Fellow. In 2011, Janae completed the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development Family Development Credential for leaders. Since 2006 she has been working at Goodwill Industries in the Workforce Development Division. Janae co-wrote the proposal that secured funding to start a program to help single mothers become self reliant and empowered. Currently, she facilitates a monthly support group for single mothers. She continues to secure funding and donations to support programming for single mothers at Goodwill. She serves on committees that evaluate Welfare to Work Programs. She is a certified Occupational Safety and Health 10 and 30 hour General Industry Trainer. She also teaches the Roots of Success Environmental Literacy Curriculum to people on and applying for public assistance to introduce them to green career opportunities and environmental justice issues facing people in their communities. She develops training programs and strategic plans to continuously improve quality and efficiency of Goodwill’s Workforce Development programs. She also sits on the Advisory Board for Samuel Gomper’s Career and Technical Education High School in the Bronx, NY. Janae has a commitment to developing programs and services to help strengthen families and address issues of urban poverty, workforce development and environmental justice.
Visit The Museum; 401 East 84th St. (1st Ave.) NYC
Join Our Capital Campaign. DONATE

Joy Rose, Executive Director
Motherhood Foundation Inc. (MFI)

Conference Line 641.715.3200

Access: 720965#

Honoring the Legacy of Mothers In Perpetuity

We are the first and only facility of its kind. The Museum Of Motherhood serves as a valuable resource for everyone including those who wish to honor mother-work and those who wish to study the cultural family, from lay-people, to school children to serious scholars. As an organization devoted to educating the world about the contributions of mothers both historically and in contemporary culture, we intend to fill a longstanding void by focusing on the many roles of mothers throughout history with our physical and virtual library, exhibit facility, traveling productions, and resource center. We honor the many unsung heroes as well as the famous and great and share the remarkable stories of how birthers & caregivers cope, inspire and prevail. There are all types of mothers here: stepmothers, adoptive mothers, activist mothers, mother artists, single mothers, divorced mothers and mothers who successfully navigated married life. The Museum of Motherhood is the house that is home to their legacy.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

World AIDS Day and Down syndrome; where is the cure?

One of my pet peeves was brought to mind by World AIDS Day. Not that I oppose finding a cure for HIV. 
I was a social worker when AIDS emerged in the eighties. I helped a young man with HIV who was kicked out of the loft in Greenwich Village which he had shared with his lover, and was now living miles from a payphone in the country where he slowly died of AIDS.No one was with him.  He covered his mouth in my office, and treated himself as a pariah, asking me to touch the doorknobs for him, since no one knew how AIDS was transmitted. My heart broke with compassion for him, abandoned to die alone. There was very little I could do besides make him comfortable and keep him company in 1985. 
In a little over three decades, we discovered AIDS existed, raised money for research, and found treatments. Now its effectively cured, if only we would admit that it is spread by immoral sexual activity, we could have it under control. I am happy for those who are benefiting. Too bad that young man is not among them. 

 In 1958 Dr Jerome Lejeune discovered trisomy 21, the cause of Down syndrome.  We should have rejoiced that a cure was now possible, and as with AIDS, banded together to raise funds. However, rather than joining him in his efforts to find a cure, which Dr Lejeune described as "taking less effort than sending a man to the moon" (which, by the way was done since T21 was discovered) the March of Dimes spent its millions developing a search-and-destroy methods of prenatal diagnosis, using Dr Lejeune's discovery to find unborn babies with Down syndrome. This led to an abortion rate of 92% for such babies. Some cure. Dr Lejeune watched this happen and dedicated his life to finding a cure, he said, 'I see only one way left to save them, and that is to cure them. The task is immense--but so is Hope."

Did we kill AIDS patients as a means to a cure?  
Or cancer patients?

 Dr Lejeune said, "Medicine becomes mad science when it attacks the patient instead of fighting the disease. We must always be on the patient's side, always."

Why was pre-natal diagnosis and abortion for nearly 50 years considered the end of the Down syndrome story? Sure, its a complicated disease, but so is HIV. I have to think that AIDS patients being movie stars like Rock Hudson had a lot to do with the dedication and  speed with which we found a cure. There are 2.7 million afflicted with HIV in the USA and nearly half a million who have trisomy 21, or 20% of that number. That is still a significant population, yet there were no huge TV specials, no ribbon on the White House, or until recently, no big Hollywood celebrities sponsoring efforts to raise money for Down syndrome research. Instead, researchers like Dr Alberto Costa have to give of their own money to search for a cure for his daughter's Down syndrome.
Like Dr Costa, I have a daughter with Down syndrome. She is no Hollywood celebrity, but don't try to tell her that. Her smile and her can-do attitude brighten her elementary school.  I volunteer full time to raise awareness of the inequity with which people with trisomy 21 are treated. No, not in education, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, she can go to typical school right through college. But in research. 

And in the way it is considered standard medical practice that a woman expecting a child with Down syndrome gets no more than a phone number for an abortion clinic instead of information about how good life is for those with Down syndrome. Thanks to Dr Brian Skotko, whose new survey in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, brings out the fact that 99% of families are happy with their child with Down syndrome, and that the people with T21 are just as pleased with their liives. This is not what expectant women have been hearing. My friends have been told they were selfish for wanting to give birth to their child with Down syndrome, bringing misery upon themselves and their families. Its simply not true. And I am working through KIDS (Keep Infants with Down Syndrome) to change how the diagnosis is treated, especially since with the new diagnostic test, MaterniT21, the diagnosis will be offered more widely and earlier. Doctors will have results at 12 weeks instead of 22, giving women plenty of time to educate themselves about what life is really going to be like for their child with Down syndrome before making a decision to abort. 

I want people like Christina to find the compassion, resources,  and acceptance which is now offered to AIDS patients. Why shouldn't she be treated with equal dignity?
Things are changing. Three years ago, the National Institute of Health formulated a research plan to find a cure for the cognitive delays of Down syndrome, and is now forming a consortium of parents and researchers. The legacy of Dr Lejeune lives on in newly formed Lejeune USA which had a major meeting at the Neuroscience Convention last month in DC (more about that meeting in future posts). UC San Diego Down syndrome researcher Dr William Mobley said, "if you told me a decade ago, I would be discussing clinical trials for a drug to treat Down syndrome cognitive delays, with four laboratories, I would not have believed it". 
  I was heartened by the star-studded fundraiser "Be Beautiful, Be Yourself" offered by the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome in Washington last month at $500 a plate. Gladys Knight was there and so was my Congressman. We don't want people with Down syndrome to go away, but there is bright promise that within a decade, the significant delays in memory and learning which my daughter endures, may be, like AIDS, on the way to the dustbin of history.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Great review up by Dr Gerard Nadal

My friend Dr Gerry Nadal has a great review of "A Special Mother is Born" at National Right to Life News.

 Here we are sharing lunch in New York after my interview Friday with Michael Coren on "The Arena" which was filmed in the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle.

Not only is Gerry a great scientist, he is a powerful writer, spellbinding speaker, and a humble, faithful Catholic dad and husband.
I am fortunate to call him my friend.
His review is up at Life Site News, and Life News as well as his popular blog Coming Home.

Preparing to tape "The Arena" in CNN studios. 
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Friday, November 4, 2011

My first customer review is up at Amazon

                                                                   You can read it here. 
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

My book is available at the WestBow Press bookstore

                                       You can go here to order it directly from WestBow Press.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Catholics celebrate All Hallow's Eve

As a Catholic I find Halloween, at least the way I celebrate it, with a Vigil Mass for the Feast of All Saints, and with my children dressed in costumes depicting saints, to be a very Christian celebration of the Resurrection of the Dead and the Body of Christ, the Church.
Also in the Catholic version of the Scriptures we have the book of Maccabees which affirms the Catholic practice of praying for the souls of the dead who are suffering in Purgatory. All Saints Day and the followig Feast of All Souls Day are focused on remembering that our goal is Heaven, and we have to pray for those who have gone before us to reach their Heavenly Home. We celebrate that fact by dressing as our heroes the saints who have gone to their reward in a blaze of glory. Saints are Catholic superheroes.
In these photos, Christina is dressed as St Margaret of Scotland, a queen who brought a Christian civilizing influence to her Scottish husband, King Malcolm's court, and who was known for her charity.

"II Maccabees 12:43-46:
"And making a gathering, he [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins."
Here's a montage of our celebration of All Hallow's Eve.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Down Syndrome Kid Inspires With "I Survived Abortion" Sign | LifeNews.com

Down Syndrome Kid Inspires With "I Survived Abortion" Sign | LifeNews.com
This photo has been going viral around Facebook, spreading the message that less than 10% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome make it to birth.

Keep it going, till these wonderful gifts of God are allowed to be born and grace the world with their gifts.
Read Kurt Kondrich's latest piece about the inalienable right to life of those with Down syndrome in Renew America. 
AND pass it on!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus Webinar on this link

Here are the recordings of the Down syndrome conference yesterday on Capitol Hill hosted by the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thoughts on bearing fruit, and loss of loved ones

From the blog of my friend Dr Gerard Nadal,  Coming Home 
Note: It’s been two weeks like no other. Yesterday we had the funeral mass and burial of Jon in Warwick, NY. We also had the memorial for Kortney and Sophy in Virginia.

Today, on the Lord’s Day, we rest.

Tomorrow, all will return to our lives and a new normal, a phase of healing and living the rest of our lives marked indelibly by the searing events of the past two weeks. As we keep the Blythe, Gordon, and Scharfenberger families in our prayers.

Here’s Deacon Kandra:

By a happy coincidence, this gospel touches on a theme that was so vital to Pope John Paul. In the parable, a tree is given one more chance to bring forth good fruit. The gardener gives it that chance; he offers it the gift of mercy. John Paul, you’ll remember, was beatified on the Feast of Divine Mercy. In fact, the opening prayer for this mass begins, “Oh God, who are rich in mercy…”

My take on loss and bearing good fruit
Today we bid farewell to Sr John Baptist SCRC, a beautiful nun who was only 50 years old of cancer, and dozens of people have come to her beside to pray one last time with Sister whose tender blue eyes and ever-present smile reflected Heaven.
My 14 year old daughter Bella was musing on what a shame is was that good people like Jon, Kortney and Sr John Baptist go home so young. We were peeling apples for a pie at the kitchen table. Suddenly she picked up an apple and said with a smile, “God always picks the ripe apples!”
Jon, Kortney and Sr John Baptist have accomplished their purpose in this life. No, we’re not satisfied, we wanted Jon to save more babies, either marry or go into the priesthood, and we know Benjamin Gordon wanted to raise his unborn daughter Sofy with his new wife Kortney. 

We wanted Sr John Baptist to beam her radiant smile at us, take our hands, as she always did, and reassure us that “this too will pass” as we mourn her death.

But these three have accomplished their life’s mission, sanctity. This is our mission as well, we are all called to be saints, these three were ‘ripe’ in that they were already full of God’s grace and love, and ready to go home. That is why the pain felt at their loss is so keen. The loss of their sweetness seems unbearable and unjust. 

We mustn’t begrudge God His excellent taste in wanting to pick the ripe apples. After all, they drew their sweetness from Him. 

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Celebrate the Feast of Blessed John Paul II with a new DVD series

Review of John Paul II; The Man, The Pope, and His Message
By Alberto Michelini
Leticia Velasquez
Catholic Media Review.
Volume 8 I Am Your Voice: The Pope on Human Rights
Catholics have long enjoyed the work of papal videographer, Alberto Michelini. Now under a special arrangement with the Vatican, what was formerly available on video has been converted to a four DVD set containing five hours of dramatic documentary footage, organized by topic into ten 30 minute films. Each film focuses on a different aspect of the pontificate of Blessed John Paul; including youth, children, the poor, the family, Marian devotion, historic events, a day in the papal apartments, and the working world. The series is available in English, French, and Spanish.  The companion website wwwjohpaulseries.com for this DVD set has free downloads of companion discussion guides for leaders and participants for each volume with tools for group discussion. This makes this series an ideal tool for teachers to use in Catholic school, CCD, and parish adult ed programs. Study groups could use these films in private homes. Homeschooling mothers from the JPII Generation will find this ideal for teaching their children about the legacy of Blessed John Paul.

Volume 8 “I Am Your Voice” is the powerful film on human rights; Pope John Paul is seen interacting with and addressing poor, sick and persecuted people from every corner of the globe.  A heartbreaking cry of misery is documented in this film; from the slums of Latin America and Calcutta, the prairies of Canada, the plazas of South Korea, the Australian Outback, the savannahs of Africa, and the shipyards of Gdansk. The desperation of the members of the human family who are callously denied basic human dignity are heard by the man who himself suffered under two oppressive regimes.  South Americans who are living forsaken in squalid slums while neighbors enjoy luxury, occupying land was stolen from them. African lepers whom the government has forgotten, living in filth, workers who are deprived of just wages and political freedom, aboriginal tribes whose numbers are decimated yet remain proud of their culture. The Pope listens to their pleas with love and tells them “The Church hears your voice”
He responds to such pain with tears of compassion, embracing the disconsolate and dying, and railing with righteous indignation at the perpetrators of injustice at the rich who ignore the hunger of the poor, and the violence between protesters and police in Chile while he shouts to the multitude, “Love is stronger, Love is stronger!” John Paul speaks unflinchingly in defense of human rights at the United Nations in 1979, attempting to awaken the powerful of the world from the somnolence of egotism. He prays with profound sorrow at the grave of murdered Polish priest and Solidarity activist Fr Jerzy Popieluszko. Not taking sides for political purposes, as he is often accused of doing, the Pope is consistently on the side of the downtrodden, pointing out that the Church cannot be silent when human dignity is at stake.
During this moving footage, the narrator adds context to the scenes, and quotes from John Paul’s numerous encyclicals dealing with social justice; allowing viewers to grow in understanding of the Church’s position on human rights issues, as a preferential option for the poor,  while avoiding the errors of Liberation Theology. He says that Christ came that we might have life abundantly, yet does not favor one political solution over another, rather, he attempts to stir the consciences of those in charge of the world’s economic systems, both left and right. For this he receives criticism for “dabbling in politics”.
Today there are protests of increasing intensity around the world, expressing frustration with injustices both political and economic. The Holy Father addressed this in his speech at the United Nations in 1979 when he said, “wars develop when inalienable rights are violated.” His warning was fulfilling the prophetic duty of the Church, to be the voice of the oppressed. He exclaims “the Church cannot be silent when human dignity is at stake”. One of the most emotionally charged moments of this documentary is when John Paul II upbraids his fellow Poles in 1991 in Kielce when he reminds them, shortly after the Solidarity Movement brought freedom to those behind the Iron Curtain and there  was a movement to tell the Church to get out of politics with regard to abortion. He reminded his countrymen that a child is a gift from God.
No human being is forgotten in John Paul’s passionate defense of the dignity of mankind from birth to natural death. These films are compellingly narrated using the best of John Paul II’s encyclicals to educate the public about why Pope John Paul is called the Great and why millions attended his funeral shouting “Santo Subito!”
Don’t miss this outstanding series which offers an unparalleled opportunity to relive this extraordinary pontificate, and grow in your appreciation of the historical legacy of soon to be St John Paul.
In the spirit of the Gospel as well as out selfless Pope, It is “better to give than to receive”, CCC of AMERICA is hosting a contest: JPII They Love You. People who go to the Pope Series website to complete a brief web form in order to enter someone of their choosing to win a DVD set (valued at $49.99). They will have only 50 words or less to say why they are entering that particular friend, relative, neighbor, CCD teacher, Priest, etc to win a copy of the series.
More information may be found at this website; wwwjohpaulseries.com

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A little Down syndrome beauty

I just discovered a stunning blogspot from a German photographer, Connie Wenk,  who like me, finds the beauty of those with T21 absolutely irresistible!
 Its called That Little Extra, and they have a calendar!

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

I will be calling in on the Health Matters radio show with Dr Delgado

"Health Matters" with Dr. George Delgado M.D., F.A.A.F.P. of Culture of Life Family Services (COLF's) (every 3rd Thursday)
Join Dr Delgado every third Thursday as he discusses health issues from a Catholic pro-life perspective. During the program, please call in with your health questions:             760 931 1604      and Dr Delgado will address them. Every Third Thursday, the doctor is in. 

Dr. George Delgado is the medical director of Culture of Life Family Health Care. He practices family medicine, providing medical care that is faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church for newborns, children and adults. Dr. Delgado is an NFP Medical Consultant trained in NaProTechnology. Additionally, he and the other members of the staff are available to counsel women who are in crisis pregnancies. Dr. Delgado received his medical degree from the University of California, Davis and completed his residency at Santa Monica Hospital/UCLA. He is board certified in family medicine and in hospice and palliative medicine. Dr. Delgado is a Voluntary Associate Clinical Professor at UCSD School of Medicine.

Please call in tonight between 6 and 7PM Pacific Time with your questions and comments. Dr Delgado is discussing pre-natal testing and raising a child with special needs. The number is 760-931-1604
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MaterniT21 threatens to extinguish the Down syndrome population

This is the point of view I explore in my article in the National Catholic Register on this new prenatal screening test for Down syndrome which was released this week.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Pre-orders for my book "A Special Mother is Born" are now being accepted!

Great news for those of you who have been wondering when the books will be available!
WestBow Press has informed me that my books are coming within three weeks!

I am taking  pre-orders here on my blog, as well as on my other blogs, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, Keep Infants with Down Syndrome, and Catholic Media Review.

Just click the paypal button in the margin on the right, leave your shipping information and your payment of $22.50 ($19.95 plus $2.55 shipping for a total of $22.50) by credit or debit  and I will ship your book to your home in one month.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Jerome Lejeune Foundation

Many of my readers have heard me praise the good work of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation which has a clinic in France which treats people with Down syndrome and funds ethical research projects worldwide to improve the cognition of those with Down syndrome.
If you haven't then you can read my articles about the Foundation here and about Dr Lejeune himself from his daughter here. I wrote the entry on Jerome Lejeune for the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought which will be published next year. We owe so much to this valiant man who is also a candidate for sainthood.
I would like to ask my readers to LIKE the Jerome Lejeune Foundation on Facebook to show your support for the pro-life legacy of Dr Lejeune.

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Health Matters: Down Syndrome

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The book cover is in!

To keep up with the progress of the book,  and for information on where to order it when it becomes available, see the book blog A Special Mother is Born. 
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Clinical trials for Down syndrome drug at Roche Labs

from PR Newswire

Roche today announced the initiation of its first Phase 1 clinical trial to investigate the safety and tolerability of a molecule designed to address the cognitive and behavioral deficits associated with Down syndrome.

"There is currently a large unmet medical need for the treatment of cognitive impairments in individuals suffering from Down syndrome," comments Luca Santarelli, Global Head of Roche Neurosciences Disease Translational Area. "Our strategy at Roche neurosciences is to specifically address these serious conditions that have no approved, effective or safe treatment. This is why we have a strong commitment to neurodevelopmental disorders, including genetic disorders like Down syndrome or Fragile X, as well as autism spectrum disorders."

Enhancing brain functions such as cognition and language in individuals with Down syndrome holds the promise to help these individuals conduct a more independent life. This may result from the improved ability to carry out every day's practical tasks such as finding an apartment, maintaining a job, or having a more fulfilling social life. These improvements can have a significant impact on functioning and quality of life of Down syndrome individuals as well as help reduce the burden for families, caregivers and the society.

"This study will target only adults between 18 and 30 years old, but we believe that an earlier intervention in Down syndrome has the potential for a greater medical impact," says Paulo Fontoura, Head of Translational Medicine in the Roche Neurosciences Disease Translational Area. "While we are still at the early stage, we are confident that our drug's mechanism of action can potentially open the door to further promising investigations in upcoming years."

Based on animal models, an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission has been proposed among the underlying causes of altered brain function in individuals with Down syndrome. Roche's investigational drug is being assessed for its ability to address this imbalance by targeting the GABAergic* system.

*GABA: gamma-amino butyric acid

This placebo-controlled study will assess the safety and tolerability of the investigational drug in individuals with Down syndrome. It will recruit up to 33 individuals in one or two countries. For more information on the study, access the Roche Clinical Trials Protocol Registry and Results Database: http://www.roche-trials.com/

This is wonderful news. Once the pharmeceutical community catches on to the fact that there is more money (or at least as much) in improving the lives of those with Down syndrome than there is in ending them through prenatal testing and abortion, then we might have a true chance to give people with Down syndrome the same chance at a normal life that has been given to many others who have medical conditions.

Its about time!

This GABA drug sounds like what Dr William Mobley was describing in his lecture at Cold Spring Harbor Labs in spring of 2009. He estimated it would take ten years to bring the drug to the market, and now clinical trials are beginning after two years. That's eight years to go.

Read the entire article here.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

STOP: Count your blessings

Hurricane Irene had wreaked havoc upon the Quiet Corner of Connecticut where we live.
Gabbi and I were on a reconnaissance mission to our tiny hamlet when the unusual STOP sign message made us pause. Someone had stenciled "Count your blessings" in white under the word STOP. We smiled and sent up a quick "deo gratias", while continuing our important objective; to find potable water to bolster our diminishing supply. It had been two days since Hurricane Irene, and the power outage was fast morphing into the greatest challenge of our life as a family. Yet no one was hurt, our home was not damaged or in danger, and we were finding strengths within ourselves as the challenges mounted. And despite feeling grubby, we were having the adventure of our lives.
The initial hours of the hurricane were the easiest by far of the week which followed.Trees swayed in the rainy wind, and a few branches flew down. Naturally the power was out. but nothing disastrous had happened, and the girls and I felt oddly disappointed as we surveyed minor damage on our first walk around the neighborhood.
The big hurricane for which we had made extra trips to the store, secured the patio table, and filled containers of water, was a bust. Or so we thought.
The next day, we were dismayed to discover that most roads to our home were blocked by downed trees and alarming configurations of dead electric cable strewn across homes and roadways. All the local towns were without power, even the mighty Walmart was closed. The severity of the storm began to reveal itself to us, but the girls chipped in merrily fetching water from the stream across the street. singing the water fetching song from "The Jungle Book".
We rediscovered how to use the gas range and refrigerator in the camper, set up a field kitchen and dish washing station. There were three types of water we decided; Level One, bottled water for drinking only. Level Two for washing people and dishes, which after use, became Level Three;toilet flushing water. We learned to think about our every move, no one wasted water, food or effort, as the tasks were were engaged in cause sore shoulder muscles at night. We recovered the lost joys of board games, learned gin rummy, and discovered candlelit sponge bathing, Bella's compositions on the piano began to fill the evening stillness. I considered dusting off my violin.
After two days of relative isolation, our neighbors began to reach out. We swapped news on when the tree removal trucks would arrive and restore power, advice on where to find gas, news that the showers at the middle school were being offered to residents, and clean water was offered. We offered our fresh tomatoes, which were in full swing, in return, and took advantage of free water, showers, and any news we could get.

There is a great lack of humility in our do-it-yourself culture.  When the hurricane and the week-long delay in the return of electric power forced us to seek help, we were humbled to find it so readily available. We had tears of gratitude spring to our eyes at the sight of the soldiers of the National Guard dropping off bottled water and military meals at the Town Hall, and our admiration for our soldiers grew as we ate some of their hearty meals, imagining soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan eating the same beef stew and oatmeal cookies we ate, making their orange drink in their canteens. We were a little reluctant to use the showers in the school, yet met friendly smiles and helpful neighbors who were becoming friends. We got to know six new households over that week, and celebrated the restoration of power with a block party. After moving to CT three years ago from Long Island, outrunning Hurricane Hannah as it followed us up the coast, we finally could say we felt like integral parts of the community.
I knew from experience that days without TV would work wonders on the girls, and when we found time for the nightly rosary the TV had squeezed out, and began to giggle over the day's mishaps, we knew a joy that electronic gadgets had robbed us of. We attended daily Mass, made designs with mosaic blocks, and spent time planning our homeschooling year. We fixed the chicken coop in time for our new chicks to become egg laying hens, and canned tomato sauce for winter. We were becoming even more of a team!
So, when my husband, who was tending to internet customers out of power, arrived home on Friday, he was impressed that we were so independent. We secretly prayed that God would not let our power be restored just yet, we wanted to share our adventure with Dad for at least 24 hours more. He showed us that we had an extra well which we could have accessed by lowering buckets the old fashioned way,  and we enjoyed my Minestrone soup dinner al fresco, proud of our accomplishments.
The next day found us seeking the internet at the library and buying groceries optimistically hoping that the food wouldn't spoil. Later that evening, the power was restored. We cheered the workers from New Hampshire as they passed our home, and resumed normal life, not without wistfulness about the strange beauty of the week where we were off the grid but far from powerless.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Take me to the fair

We enjoyed two weeks with our Long Island family and friends at the beginning of August. This included  trips to the petting farm near Grandpa's,  trips with cousins to the beach and reunions with dear friends like Mary Faith and Tammy, a contributor to "A Special Mother is Born".
Here are Christina and Mary Faith enjoying the rides at a Fair for the Feast of the Assumption.
Every time these two get together, the time apart melts away and they are in sync again. They 'get' one another's signals in a way we moms can only admire.

Look at their concentration while driving. . .and praying.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

If you missed us on "Faith and Culture" the first time, here's your chance

Show host Colleen Carrroll Campbell just informed us that EWTN is re-airing our "Faith and Culture" interview on the following dates and times, according to the online schedule.
Sunday Sept. 18 at 5:00 PM EST, 
Monday Sept 19 at 2:30 PM EST 
Wednesday Sept 21 at 11PM EST. 

Its called "Keeping Infants with Down Syndrome".
If you miss this, its not archived, you'll have to purchase the DVD in the EWTN Catalogue. 

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