Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One story like this makes it all worthwhile

I have been complaining lately about a problem shared by many Catholic writers. We have plenty of wonderful opportunities to evangelize via the Internet, blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, and the occasional paid article. Just look at all the great websites, books, encyclopedias,  and magazines in which I have been honored to publish my work mentioned in the sidebar of this blog. Most of the time there is no pay. None.
 I am largely a volunteer writer with two daughters in Catholic schools paying steep tuition. My husband is very a patient and generous man. There is very little money in this business. We do it for love of souls and to participate in the New Springtime of Evangelization. I joke about adding bricks to my mansion in Heaven.
But sometimes, and this week was one of them, I feel sorry for myself for being broke. I used to make $65.00 an hour teaching English in a Community College on Long Island, and I do, after all, have a job.

But then, Mary Kochan, bless her, my editor at Catholic Lane suddenly makes it all worthwhile. Not that interviewing Eduardo Verastegui here about his role in "For Greater Glory" wasn't a fantastic perk on its own, but this comment at the end of the interview reminded me that by promoting films like "For Greater Glory" I am participating in the saving of souls. I am humbled by Jim's piety and embarrassed that I wanted more than this.

Jim •
First of
all I have to say that this movie did not entertain me, however it did brutally
educate me on an event I knew nothing about.

I have
been a terrible Catholic all my life and a coward as well and have totally lost
my faith in the Catholic Church. With the sex scandals that went on and me a
victim of it I had learned to hate the Catholic Church. I am now dying of
cancer and was feeling so alone though my family is always nearby. I still felt
I was missing something; something I had to do before I left this earth but I
could not put my fingers on it. I was feeling empty, it was like well, I have
to die but why am I afraid? We all have to face it.

I felt
compelled to watch this movie and don’t know why, I have never felt like this
in watching any other movie trailer, but when I did see it I had to check the
net and find out what I could on this event. After searching and reading some
articles I was hooked but only because I wanted to see what these people would
do with their faith, what I did not anticipate was the spiritual journey that
this movie takes you on.

I was
overwhelmed with the courage and faith of these Christeros and was downright
heartbroken over the torture of this little boy. Never have I witnessed such
bravery in people and made me proud to be a Catholic once more which is
something I never thought I would say again. The courage and faith of this
little boy has made it possible for me to die without fear and I can say I no
longer fear it. Who am I to complain about the manner of my death after
watching this brave boy and others give up their lives? What an inspirational
film and I now know that it was no accident for me to see it. In the end it Was
God that I was missing, I always felt him but I never reached out to him.

To honor
this boy and all the Christeros I have decided to stop taking my medication
since it is only for pain anyways. I need to make amends for my previous lack
of faith and it is nothing compared what was done to the Christeros. My journey is close to an end and I no longer
have any fear and can’t wait for the day that I can meet this boy and all the
Christeros. Thank you for this film! To the boy and the Christeros I say thank
you for given me back my faith and until we meet. Viva Christo Rey!

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Asking for the intercession of Servant of God Dr Jerome Lejeune

Servant of God, Dr Jerome Lejeune
As members of KIDS know, we may have our very own patron saint of those with Down syndrome, Dr Jerome Lejeune. His cause has passed the first phase of data collection in his native Paris and this month is off to Rome where it will be determined if he lived a life of heroic virtue, in which case, he will move from his current title: Servant of God to "Venerable". Then, if a miracle occurs due to his intercession, the Vatican can approve his cause for beatification. But we don't have to wait until Dr Lejeune is declared Venerable. The sister who was cured of Parkinson's Disease through Blessed John Paul II's intercession, prayed immediately after his death. This miracle led to his beatification, and now there is a second miracle which will lead to his canonization.

We have a prayer intention now, from a woman named Patty Steele, who read Barb Curtis' wonderful article on Dr Lejeune in American Life League's "Celebrate Life" magazine and here is the email where she requests prayers for a friend of hers who is in great need.

Dear Barbara:
I found your article on Professor Lejeune and was wondering if you knew how I could contact someone in charge of his cause for canonization? A friend of mine had a tragic accident (see story below) and we are praying for his healing through Dr. Lejeune. We wanted to notify those in charge of his cause and ask for their prayers also. Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated!! Your prayers would also be appreciated!! Thanks and God bless!!
Patty Steele

I ask that you pray this daily prayer of healing for Pete Beerse and if you can spread it to other prayer chains that would be awesome! See his story below.

God, you created man in your image and intended him to share your glory. We thank you for having granted to your Church the gift of Professor Jerome Lejeune (discovered cause of down syndrome), a distinguished servant of life. He knew how to place his immense intelligence 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 completely heal Pete, hoping that soon he will become one of your saints.

Pete and Lisa have been married for 25 years! They have 8 children, 1 son-in-law and 1 grandson. On Sunday, September 9, 2012, Pete and Lisa were on their front porch swing when it collapsed. Lisa was uninjured, but Pete hit his head and broke his neck. He was air flighted to University Hospital in downtown Cincinnati where he is currently being treated. His neck was broken between C6 and C7. The break then damaged his spinal cord. He can move his arms, but cannot move his hands and fingers. He has no movement from the upper chest down.

What the family needs most right now is prayer! Please join us in praying for Pete's total healing through Professor Jerome Lejeune. Pete was very interested in promoting Professor Jerome Lejeune's cause for canonization because in July 1958, as Prof. Lejeune was studying chromosomes linked to Down syndrome, he discovered the existence of an additional chromosome on the 21st pair. With this remarkable and ground-breaking discovery, he renamed the condition trisomy 21 to accurately describe the genetic abnormality. For the first time Dr. Lejeune had established a link between an intellectual disability and its genetic cause. Pete's 7th child Michael has Trisomy 21.
As they were leaving the house after the accident Pete told Lisa to get the prayer off the piano that he had recently printed and ask people to begin praying for him! So in obedience and with great hope and love we obey Papa Beerse and pray with all our heart for his healing through the powerful intercession of this holy man Professor Jerome Lejeune! For further updates you can go to

Thank you so much!!
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Down Syndrome Daily: NEISD to pilot Down syndrome reading program

Down Syndrome Daily: NEISD to pilot Down syndrome reading program:This program, designed by Sue Buckley of Downs Ed International in Great Britain is the first of its kind designed specifically for children with Down syndrome.
The same reading program will be discussed at a two day conference in Burlington, Massachusetts this November 30 through Dec 1. See more details here. 

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The "call within a call' to special motherhood

Today is Blessed Mother Teresa's "Inspiration Day". The day she was taking the train to a retreat in Darjeeling and Jesus spoke to her about her 'call within a call' to leave her safe convent with the Sisters of Loreto, where she taught wealthy girls and to begin a radical new life, serving the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta. It was truly courageous of her to do this, she had no precedent besides the examples of the great saints, no agency, no funds,  no place to bring the homeless dying people whom the hospitals rejected when she carried them in from the street. Yet she placed her trust in the loving words of Christ, stepped out in faith,  and persevered in her apostolate,  even when He seemed distant, and her work bore fruit that even the world acknowledges as extraordinary.
I like to compare the vocation of parents of special needs children to Mother Teresa's 'call within a call'. We Catholic parents are often aware that our vocation to parenthood is a holy call, but sometimes Our Lord speaks to the hearts of certain parents,  asking us to trust Him even more deeply as He blesses them with a special needs child.
Sometimes it comes as a pre-natal diagnosis of special needs like Down syndrome as this mother had. Other times we are called to adopt a child with special needs as the Watkins family did. Sadly the first mother, initially accepted the call to give birth to her son Joseph with Down syndrome and autism, but allowed his father to cast doubt on that call, and she ultimately rejected her son, aborting him at 18 weeks, for fear of losing her lover. So much sadness and grief replaced what could have been amazing joy. They said "no" to what Mother Agnes Mary Donovan,  SV, Superior of the Sisters of Life, in the Foreword to my book on this topic, "A Special Mother is Born",  calls, the "surprising encounter with Christ" and have nothing but grief, and a dead son where faith and a relationship not only with a special boy, but a living Christ could have transformed their lives. I doubt their relationship will survive this loss unless they turn to Christ for forgiveness. May He have mercy on them.
The Watkins family, on the other hand, said "yes" to the call to parent not one, but two children with Down syndrome. They found Anna, 9 and Vlad, 10 in a Ukrainian orphanage and brought them across the Atlantic Ocean to a happy home already blessed with four siblings to love them.
“We just knew immediately that’s what we were called to do,” Andrea said of adopting children with a developmental disability. “We kind of always felt like this was something we wanted.”
That desire, or calling as the Watkins describe it, was born of the family’s Christian faith and experiences with their own siblings. Kevin’s brother has Down syndrome and Andrea’s brother also has developmental disabilities.
Children multiply joy and expand hearts; they don't divide parents if they are willing to trust in Christ's call to share their hearts, their homes and their futures.None of us knows what the future holds, but we know of Christ's great love for us.  The important thing is to love Christ enough to know, as He told me in my heart when He revealed the baby I was carrying a decade ago,  had Down syndrome, that "this child is a gift from My Hand."
Thank you from the bottom of my hear to Jesus whose gifts are infinitely better than our greatest dreams!
Happy Inspiration Day!

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Interview with Eduardo Verastegui

I spent all weekend typing the nearly 3,000 word interview. Eduardo surprised me with his knowledge and wisdom on the subject of parenting. I had solicited questions on Facebook and many moms wanted words of wisdom to share with teens who are too enamored of Hollywood and Eduardo at first seemed overwhelmed by a parenting question (despite his many accomplishments, he hasn't found the right woman to settle down with and start a family yet) however, he applied the sound teachings he has been studying with his Catholic actor friends came up with some truly impressive thoughts on how to help keep children from the temptations to achieve fame at all costs.
I have some questions from Facebook. These mothers want you to know how much they appreciate your witness to a life of faith and chastity out in the world. They want to know how to talk to teenagers who are obsessed with Hollywood. What advice would you give to parents?
Verastegui: Wow! It’s a hard question! (laughs)

Velasquez: I know, you’re not even a parent and you get this tough question!
Verastegui: Well, I said the other day, that this generation needs more testimony than teachers. The best thing thing the parents can give to their children is lead by example. For example, if my father tells me, “Get a job” and he doesn’t get a job, why in the world am I going to be listening to him if I am a teenager?

Who is God for you at that time, but your parents? Everything you are going to learn about God is going to come from the love and the actions and the examples of your Papa and Mama. And if they behave well and if they raise you well, by example, you are 90% out of the gate.

If you are telling them “go watch TV” and you are watching TV you are doing this and you are doing that, you are not really loving them and spending a lot of time with your kids. Because if you have a father who works all day and a mother who works all day and the house is completely abandoned, they are going to feel like they are not important, because you are not spending time with them. Many parents to justify that; they say we have to work hard to give them the right education but when you are thinking like that, right here you are not giving the right education because you’re not spending time with them, all they need is the love of Papa and Mama. So, I don’t have all the answers. . .
Read the entire interview here. 
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Friday, September 7, 2012

New Interview with Eduardo Verastegui

Eduardo Verastegui and Gabbi Velasquez. 
On September 11, the DVD of "For Greater Glory" will be available. In  preparation for this event, I interviewed actor Eduardo Verastegui by phone. I reminded him of this interview which I conducted with other members of the press here in Connecticut in August 2009 and he fondly remembered staying as the guest of the Sisters of Charity in Baltic, CT. I will be linking to the interview here when I type it up.
We discussed the film, and passing on the Faith to children, and the dangers of our children losing it when they leave home. I wanted to tell him I am not worried about my daughter losing her faith because of who she is, and where she is going to university, but we had time constraints and I didn't have a chance.
Here is the interesting part. My daughter Gabbi met Eduardo in 2009 when I did,  both at her summer camp with the Sisters and after my interview with him. Here they are in these photos.

 Now I interview him again, and, afterwards,  I called her to tell her, she is away at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and she tells me that she will be meeting Eduardo again, on Monday as he screens "For Greater Glory" there.
 I hope she'll get a chance to tell him she's my daughter, and that I don't have to worry about her losing her faith at Franciscan. She's in great hands at Franciscan.

Small world!

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