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Protecting ‘power’ to the brain can fend off Alzheimer’s

For the first time in history, non-infectious chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease, diabetes and dementia) have replaced infectious diseases in the majority of deaths worldwide.

In the U.S., Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is second only to cancer as the most feared diagnosis. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease; symptoms progress over a decade, slowly and relentlessly robbing people of their memories, ability to think, and remain independent. No one has ever survived Alzheimer’s disease and the current available treatments have very modest benefits. Sixteen million American caregiving families and friends last year accounted for $232 billion in free care during 18.4 billion hours.

The greatest risk factor for developing AD is age. AD affects 10 percent of people over 65 years, and 45 percent over 85 years. Nearly 50 million people worldwide have AD, and this number is expected to nearly triple over the next 30 years, due to the world’s aging population.

Sobering news, but there is hope.

Through current brain imaging capabilities and blood and spinal fluid testing, we know that AD typically starts ‘silently’ in midlife with the slow accumulation of two proteins — amyloid and tau— decades before the mildest symptoms appear. Disease gradually progresses to subtle memory problems and then worsens to involve additional thinking skill (reasoning, judgment, attention, and language). When these symptoms reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities, a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s “dementia” is made. Patients with AD often have a second form of dementia (vascular, Lewy body, etc.).

Treatment – medical and practical

What about treatment? First, there are non- modifiable risk factors, such as advancing age and genetic risk factors, such as a protein called ApoE4. About one-fourth of the population carries this protein, and people with one or two copies of ApoE4 have a threefold and twelvefold, respectively, increased risk of AD. Gene therapy advances may make it possible to either “silence” or alter ApoE4.

Modifiable risk factors include cardiovascular disease (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease) and social and cognitive disengagement. A healthy heart helps to maintain a healthy brain, and an active mind increases resilience to AD. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding mid-life weight gain, not smoking, modestly drinking alcohol, regularly exercising (even walking!), treating diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure if diagnosed, maintaining strong social ties with your friends and family (don’t be too busy to visit, call, or e-mail), and keeping mentally active (reading, seeking challenging mental tasks, being the ‘eternal student’!) could reduce the cases of Alzheimer’s disease worldwide by as much as a third! The Alzheimer’s Association is a great first resource for those interested in learning more: https://www.alz.org.

On the scientific front, there are many clinical trials to reduce levels of abnormal amyloid and tau proteins, as well as trials focusing on the brain’s immune system, neurotransmitters, and improving brain cell survival. Gene therapies and adult stem cell approaches will likely impact the future course of AD.

MARTIN M. BEDNAR, M.D., PH.D. is vice president, Neuroscience Therapeutic Area Unit, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and a fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Throughout his pharmaceutical career, he has focused on Alzheimer’s disease therapies. Dr. Bednar is president of the Providence, RI Legatus chapter and a frequent author on the interrelationship of science and religion, embracing the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

Making Room At The Inn

It was the vacation of a lifetime for Paul Wilkes and his wife, Tracy, when they booked a four-week trip to India in 2006. They were simply looking for “something a little different.” Their two boys were grown. Tracy ran a home for underprivileged kids in Wilmington, North Carolina. Paul was a successful author and freelance writer for such notable publications as The Atlantic and the New York Times and had taught journalism at Columbia and Notre Dame.

A side trip on their way to visit a Trappist monastery, however, became the detour of their very lives. That fateful trip resulted in Paul founding the Home of Hope in India with the mission to build homes for orphaned and abandoned girls.

FATEFUL DETOUR

After breakfast at their hotel in the city of Kochi, a personal driver picked up Paul and Tracy for some sightseeing. The driver talked proudly of Kochi’s past and present. Paul was very distracted by the many crippled and maimed children—mostly girls— begging on the streets.

The Wilkes planned to visit a Trappist monastery later that afternoon but at two o’clock, the driver said they had more time so was there anything else they would like to see? “I’m Catholic,” Paul said. “There are so many sick and bedraggled kids begging on the street. What is my Church doing about this?”

“I could tell you,” the driver said, “but, if you don’t mind, sir, I’ll show you.”

Soon, they entered the gates of Prathyasha Bhavan—which translates as Home of Hope— an orphanage that housed 75 girls run by the Salesian Sisters. The gates swung open and a group of girls came running out, smiling and waving at the visitors.

Sisters Sophie and Thresia showed Paul and Tracy around, then offered them some tea. The sisters had asked for nothing, but Paul was ready to offer a donation when he noticed a little girl wearing sunglasses standing near Sister Sophie. It seemed out of place. They can’t even afford rice, Paul thought recalling the meager pantry he had just seen. “Why is she wearing sunglasses?” he asked.

Sister took off the glasses. One of Reena’s eyes was dark and clear, but the other was scarred and dull. “Sister told me that six-year-old Reena was begging on the street with her mother who was mentally ill, when they were separated in the crowd,” Paul said. “Reena was kidnapped by the ‘beggar Mafia,’ who routinely do this sort of thing. They held her down and gouged her eye to make her a “better beggar”. It made her more pitiful, so people would give more money, which the beggar Mafia would immediately take.

“I grimaced in horror,” Paul said. “And she returned my look of horror with the most beautiful and trusting smile I had ever seen.”

Paul and Tracy continued on to the Trappist monastery, but their minds and hearts remained at the Home of Hope. It is mostly girls that beg since boys in India are more valued and expected to work to help support their families. Although the Salesian Sisters gave loving care to the girls, they lived in deplorable conditions and slept on a concrete floor at night.

Before leaving Kochi, Paul felt compelled to see the Home of Hope again and made a silent commitment: Reena, somehow, some way, I want to — I AM – going to make your future better than your horrible past.

TAKING INVENTORY

Back at home, Reena’s smile stayed with Paul just as the words of his third-grade teacher, Sr. Mary at St. Benedict’s in Cleveland, Ohio, had done. “Does it matter that you were alive? Will this world be a better place because of you?” she had asked them.

Paul’s grandparents immigrated from Slovakia. His parents had only sixth-grade educations and his dad worked in a coal mine, but there was always room for more at the dinner table. The lessons of his childhood never left Paul; charity was a constant alongside his successful journalism career.

Paul’s first thought was to raise money for foam mattresses. He succeeded but the mattresses failed. There was no room to store them and they quickly became dirty on the floor. At that point at 68 years old, working on another book [he has 20 in all now] and teaching part-time at the University of North Carolina, Paul had just begun receiving Social Security. The check amount was about the same as his teaching job.

Paul considered that those girls in India did not need mattresses; they needed a respectable home with beds. He decided to live simply on just Social Security and his mission began. Rather than try to repair a dilapidated structure, Paul started raising money for a new home. “I started speaking in parishes and Rotary Clubs and anywhere I could,” Paul said. “I had no administrative experience, but there’s a thing called faith.”

Paul raised enough money and let the Salesian Sisters supervise building the home. Once that was complete, knowing there were 500,000 other girls on the streets of India, Paul kept going. Thirteen years later, 12 homes have been funded and 4,000 girls have been helped. “Some only stayed a few days or weeks until we could figure out their situation and return them to responsible relatives,” Paul said. “Other girls stayed and have gone on to school and/ or married. There are 1,000 girls currently in residence.”

LEGATE BUILDS 12TH HOME

Legates John Clegg and his wife Clare met Paul years ago when he came to speak at their parish, Our Lady of the Star, in Ponte Vedra Beach. The Cleggs are among the founding members of the Jacksonville, Florida Chapter, and John served as president from 2014-2015. “I found Paul’s story in dropping everything to do this remarkable,” John said. “I would call Paul four or five times a year to keep in touch.”

Six months ago, after construction on the 11th home began, John surprised Paul with an offer to completely pay for home number 12. That home, called The Little Flower in Imphal, India, is now under construction.

John explained that supporting the Homes of Hope mission is a natural extension of his years in pro-life work. He appreciates that around 95 percent of all donations go directly to building homes. Paul takes no salary.

“What he does is so simple,” John said. “He finds nuns from the orders of Salesians, Carmelites, and Franciscan Clarists who are already caring for abandoned children, and he builds them a home. It costs around $300,000 and once it’s built, the sisters are self-sufficient. I am hoping this [funding an entire home] will set a trend which will make Paul’s life easier. If money were no object, he could build more homes.”

John writes back and forth with the sisters of The Little Flower home who call him “Uncle” and send their heartfelt thanks. “When the new home is ready, I will go out for the dedication,” he said.

Today, at age 80, Paul sometimes visits during construction and makes a final visit at the time of dedication, frequently accompanied with his wife. “When I go to India, my feet never touch the ground,” he said. “The feeling of those little hands grabbing your hand and the back of your shirt—it doesn’t get any better than that.”

For more information, visit HomeofHopeIndia.org  

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

Extend Christmas joy, right from your kitchen

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! People are generally trying to be more attentive to others. There’s an aura that warms their hearts. The joy of Christmas awakens consciousness to give of oneself.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said it beautifully in a 2005 homily: “Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not expensive presents that demand time and money. We can transmit this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, with some small help, with forgiveness. Let us seek in particular to communicate the deepest joy, that of knowing God in Christ. Let us pray that this presence of God’s liberating joy will shine out in our lives.”

My ancestors in Italy embodied this through the Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, keeping in mind what this custom signifies.

Tradition holds that it represents the seven sacraments. Leave it to the Italians to teach the Faith with food! Nourishing our souls with the sacraments allows others to recognize the joy of Christmas within us, just as when the disciples recognized the resurrected Christ in the breaking of the Bread at the supper at Emmaus.

The urgency for Christmas should be to keep the joy of Christ’s coming alive all year. It can be done if we accompany those little acts of charity with a deeper, committed prayer life. A well-nurtured personal prayer life keeps charity growing within us, radiating as an external joy of Christ that others can absorb from us. During the Christmas season we tend to pay more attention to prayer and the sacraments. But once we get back to our regular routine, for some that extra prayer effort gets diminished or forgotten. This challenge can be overcome if one understands that: Non potest quis id quod non habet [one cannot give what one does not have]. Simply put: if one does not have Christ’s joy within, he cannot extend it!

In availing ourselves of the sacraments this season, especially the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and keeping a simple prayer life like reading the Bible, or reciting the rosary, we will keep the joy of Christ alive in us all year. Without any great effort, we can bring the joy of Christ to others. His joy will radiate through all our good deeds and actions. Buon Natale!

 

Ragu d’Astice (Lobster Ragu) • serves 4

Ingredients:
4 – 8oz. lobster tails*
1 lb. fusilli pasta cooked al dente
1 25 oz. jar Cucina Antica Garlic Marinara Cooking Sauce or sauce of your choice
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 cup white onion, finely minced
1⁄2 cup white wine
2 tsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 pinches hot red pepper flakes Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
Prepare lobster tails: crack tail and loosen meat from shell without detaching from tail.

In a 10-12” deep sauté pan, combine extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and onions. Sauté on medium heat until garlic is light golden and onions translucent.

Add lobster meat and tails, white wine, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to pan. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add cooking sauce to pan. Simmer low 3 minutes until tails turn red, meat turns white.

Cover; cook with lid askew for 3 minutes on low until meat is cooked through (make sure to not overcook lobster).

Cook the pasta al dente, drain it, and add in 1 cup of lobster ragu from saute pan to prevent pasta from sticking. Stir to mix well.

Plate pasta, top with lobster ragu, and garnish with chopped parsley.

*Optional: remove lobster shell before serving or leave to add to presentation. For a true Feast of the Seven Fishes, substitute any or all of the following: mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, scallops, lobster, king crab.

 

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods Corp., a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient at Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood.

Waiting for Christ: Meditations for Advent and Christmas

Blessed John Henry Newman
Augustine Institute, 160 pages

Blessed John Henry Newman was a 19th- century leader of the Oxford Movement by which many intellectuals left the Anglican Church to embrace Catholicism. He also was an outstanding orator and prolific writer who inspired many to understand and live their faith more fully. These meditations stretching from Advent through Epiphany are in this vein as they invite us to contemplate such themes as our need for truth, our dependence upon God, Mary’s role in salvation, the meaning of suffering and martyrdom, and in what true joy consists. Pick up a copy now to reinvigorate your interior life this Christmas.

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How truth regarding Jesus’ birth affects us today

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” — John 3:16

During this wondrous season, while Christians around the world proclaim the most significant event in human history, that Jesus, the Word made flesh, was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,” its real significance is often missed.

Have you ever stopped to think about the deeper meaning of the Incarnation and Nativity of Jesus? His birth was the birth of the most unique Person in history – the incarnation of God Himself, the mingling of God with humanity. As the greatest testimony of His love, the Father has His only Son become man to heal us from everything that separates us from Him – to save us from our sins. In this way, Jesus merits for us the dignity of becoming children of God, allowing us to cry out, Abba Father.

This great love story is retold every year and portrayed in the Christmas creche, which focuses our reflection, contemplation, and gratitude upon the wonder and beauty of our Savior’s birth. It is hard to imagine Christmas without this humble scene and its profound teaching of the heavenly Father’s love for His children.

The origin of the Christmas creche rests with St. Francis of Assisi. It is said that St. Francis lived daily with great joy the wonder and awe of the Incarnation of the Son of God and His blessed and humble birth. The meek saint would often shed tears of heartfelt gratitude, praising the divine Son who took upon Himself our human nature to reveal His Father and to reconcile all things and destroy the power of sin and death forever.

This event is the central moment in human history, which has changed forever our understanding of earthly realities. One reality is how we look upon the sanctity of human life. Jesus’ body was formed in the womb of Mary: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The eternal Son of God came into the world in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, thus blessing the womb of every woman and the precious life of every child. The ministry of Jesus didn’t begin at His birth but at His conception.

Despite this, life at every stage – from conception to natural death – is under siege. We cry and protest for the children who are impeded from being born, for the millions of children born and left to die from hunger and sickness, for the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disadvantaged, the marginalized, and the disabled. Yet, amid our weary struggle with these injustices, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of the wonder of the Incarnation, its significance, and its power to tranform:

“The action of God, in fact, is not limited to words, indeed we might say he is not content only to speak but is immersed in our history and takes on the fatigue and weight of human life.”

The unapproachable God became approachable and is fully expressed – a God of love, mercy, righteousness, holiness, compassion, and glory. If we lose perspective on the essential truths that are bound up in the Incarnation and Nativity of the Lord Jesus, we lose sight of the Gospel and its revealed truth about life, the human person, and our eternal destiny.

FATHER SHENAN J. BOQUET is the president of Human Life International www.hli.org and a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA.

Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived

Antonin Scalia
Crown Forum, 418 pages
Distributed by Ignatius Press (www.ignatius.com)

 

The late Justice Antonin Scalia brought to the U.S. Supreme Court a keen intellect, a sometimes sardonic wit, and a judicial perspective known as originalism – that the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with its original meaning as intended by its framers. This articulate and entertaining book collects his best speeches into thematic groups to present a stirring overview of this great jurist’s thought. Of special note are his ideas on faith and work – in particular, his speech on “Faith and Judging” should be read by every Catholic. It’s a great volume for seeking clarity in an age that has seen an excess of judicial activism.

 

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Meet the Chaplain: Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith – Portland Chapter

Smith has been the vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of Portland since his episcopal ordination in 2014.

In a recent interview with Legatus magazine, Bishop Smith, 60, a native of South Africa who emigrated to the United States and was ordained a priest in June 2001, said he was “gobsmacked” when the papal nuncio called to inform he was being ordained a bishop.

As a naturalized citizen and member of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise, a small community of men committed to celibate life whose priest- members are incardinated in the Portland Archdiocese, Bishop Smith brings a unique perspective to his roles as an auxiliary bishop and as chaplain of Legatus’ Portland Chapter.

When did you discern the priesthood was your vocation?

I had joined this lay movement and then this group of brothers within it. I had been living as a brother for a number of years when the possibility of being ordained but continuing to live the life of the community became real. We were given permission to start a new association, and when that happened, I remember my discernment was, “Lord if you make this happen, I’ll go ahead.” So the door opened.

How did you come to join the Brotherhood of the People of Praise?

I met two of the leaders of the larger lay movement at a conference in South Africa. I was finishing business school at the time, and then I went on to law school. When I finished law school, I decided to come visit them before I moved on with my career. I was planning to join my father’s law firm back as a corporate lawyer, but the Lord had other ideas.

How would you describe the spirituality of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise?

It’s one of the lay movements that emerged after Vatican II. We emerged out of that as essentially lay people trying to live holy lives in the world, in community, and continuing with whatever mission of the Church comes their way.

Do you often visit South Africa?

I try to go back once a year. My mother is still alive and lives there. I have five siblings, two of whom live in South Africa. It’s a long trip. The travel is anywhere between 22 to 23 hours on planes, in a 36-hour period, and that’s not cheap.

As a naturalized citizen of the U.S., does it give you a distinct viewpoint of the Church in America?

I see things from a somewhat different perspective and have different sensitivities than perhaps people here would have. You’re a product of your culture, and when you move to another culture you have to learn to adapt. Being an immigrant is very helpful in being able to speak to that issue, being able to tell people, “Hey, I understand. I went through the legal immigration process. It was pretty arduous and there were moments there when I didn’t know what was going to happen, but the good Lord sorted it all out.” So I have sympathy for people who have to navigate the system.

Who are your spiritual role models?

A lot of the saints and a lot of the holy men and women. Somebody I read anytime he puts something out in English is Franciscan Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the papal household, who’s written a lot of books on renewal movements in the Church and ecumenism. His book, Life in Christ, about personal friendship with Christ, is probably one of the best spiritual books I’ve read.

How would you describe your personal spirituality?

Friendship with the indwelling Christ and Trinity. It’s been a long journey to get to this point over the years, but I’ve had a wonderful spiritual director for 30 years, and he’s been just wonderful, helping me to navigate through my journey in life.

Catholics must be well-trained, operative citizens

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Following Christ’s command requires Catholic citizens to know “Caesar” and comply with Caesar’s just commands.

Salvation history shows that God often relied on leaders who knew how civil governmentworked.

Joseph, whose brothers sold him to merchants, was imprisoned and later rose in importance in the government of Egypt to become second in authority under Pharaoh. Joseph’s position enabled him to save the fledgling chosen people from death by famine.

Moses, who was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, learned first hand of the operations of the Egyptian government in Pharaoh’s household. That knowledge was critical to the Hebrews leaving Egypt.

When St. Paul was in a fight with the Jewish Sanhedrin to preach Christ crucified, he convinced the Roman governor, Festus (who wanted to turn Paul over to Jewish authorities), that he was a Roman citizen who could appeal to Ceasar to decide the dispute.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput noted, “Catholics need to wake up … What we’re watching emerge … is a new kind of paganism, and atheism … and … it is neither tolerant nor morally neutral.” (Public Discourse, 1/24/12)

Anti-Christian zealots are working to prevent the Church from finding families for orphans which it has been doing for nearly 2,000 years until the current imposition of LGBT demands. Now, nine states and Washington, D.C. (96 million people) have laws/policies that require faith-based agencies to place children for adoption or foster care with homosexual couples or have their adoption licenses revoked.

The Church’s social doctrine states, “No power can abolish the natural right to marriage or modify its traits and purpose. Marriage in fact is endowed with its own proper, innate and permanent characteristics,” but the 2015 Obergefell Supreme Court decision assumed that sodomy and other disordered behaviors constitute the predicate for same-sex “marriage.”

In 2017, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) criticized federal Court of Appeals Trump Appeals Court nominee Amy Barrett, a Catholic, because “many of us … have this very uncomfortable feeling [that] … in your case … the dogma lives loudly within you. And that is a concern …” Apparently, killing roughly 60 million children under the Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion ruling is not a concern for Sen. Feinstein.

Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ activists, socialists, and others are pressuring school boards, courts, state legislatures, and Congress to remove Christians from the public square as was done in the Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin, in China under Chairman Mao, in Germany under Adolph Hitler, and in Mexico under Plutarco Calles.

Abandoning government to secular atheists has dire consequences for our families, friends, country, and the Church. A Woodrow Wilson Foundation poll of 1,000 American citizens found only 19 percent of those 45 or under would pass the citizenship naturalization test. Citizens hostile to the natural law who are ignorant of the Constitution and its due process requirements are easily led by demagogues.

So, starting with our own example and families, we must teach our children to be well-trained citizens knowing how laws are made and elections are won to better defend the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” in the public square as our Founders did.

Pope Pius XI (1937) told German parents, “none can free you from the responsibility God has placed on you over your children. … the eternal Judge … will ask. ‘Where are those I confided to you?’”

To love our neighbor we must be the leaven of America, the light of the world, and the salt of the earth as Christ told us, or we will be trampled underfoot by growing, angry mobs.

ROBERT MARSHALL was a member of the Virginia General Assembly from 1992 to 2018, and is the author of Reclaiming the Republic: How Christians and Other Conservatives Can Win Back America. Email him at robertgbobmarshall@gmail.com.

The Reason for the Seasons: Why Christians Celebrate What and When They Do

James V. Schall, S.J.
Sophia Institute Press, 304 pages


“We cannot be joyful without ultimately knowing why we should be joyful, without having something to be joyful about,” writes Fr. Schall, and so the feasts of the liturgical year invite us to “wonder” so as to experience “an awe that is fully aware of the truth that makes us free.” This collection of essays by the eminent Jesuit scholar reflects on the Church’s major observances, primarily Christmas and the seasons from Lent through Pentecost, but also the key Marian feasts, All Saints, All Souls, and even a touch of Ordinary Time. As always, Fr. Schall provides nourishment for both mind and soul.

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The Quiet Man headed home

“Based on the Church’s teachings, his soul was wiped clean, with Baptism and the Last Rites. He probably made a direct shot to the high heavens,” said Patrick Wayne, the son of the legendary actor whose name still resonates with audiences nearly 40 years after his death.

“I think what my dad represents to people, what they find attractive, is that he, not only on the screen but in his personal life, represented a character, the icon of the Old West, that this is an individual who stands on his own, who works hard to succeed,” said Patrick, 79, who himself enjoyed a successful film career.

Patrick Wayne, the chairman of the John Wayne Cancer Institute, will be one of the Legatus Summit 2019 speakers in January. He will be speaking about his famous father, the role that faith played in his life, and his family’s work to carry on the Duke’s legacy through funding cancer research.

“We had no idea how long the institute would last,” Patrick said. “We thought we would ride this and if his name resonated with the public, great. Not one of us would have expected that his celebrity and popularity would still resonate, and it does.”

An ambitious athlete

John Wayne was born Marion Mitchell Morrison in 1907 in a small town in Iowa. His parents moved the family west to California, eventually settling in Glendale. The young John Wayne was a gifted and driven athlete.

As a young man, my dad was ambitious. He wanted to succeed. He wanted to do something,” Patrick said.

John Wayne had dreams of attending the U.S. Naval Academy, but did not get admitted. However, he excelled in football and landed a scholarship to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

In his first year of college, Wayne broke his shoulder while surfing, and lost his football scholarship. He went to work in the local film studios, where USC football players often worked in the off-season, helping with props and working as an extra.

Within a decade, John Wayne was a movie star.

“If he had gone to the Naval Academy, he would have become the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Patrick said. “If he had gone to school, he would have been president of the United States. He was going to succeed in some form, in some way. Fate just took him into the movie business.”

Then to the movies

John Wayne appeared in more than 175 movies. He won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. He played dozens of cowboys in Westerns. He starred alongside Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man and portrayed soldiers in The Longest Day and The Green Berets.

“His roles in films were cookie-cutter, but not in a bad way,” said Patrick, who explained that his father was advised at a young age by the actor Harry Carey that he did not need to portray many different characters because moviegoers wanted their stars to be consistent, if not predictable.

“Right or wrong, good or bad, he chose to follow that route. I guess it paid off for him. He was still pretty successful,” said Patrick, who appeared in 40 films, 11 with his father, including The Quiet Man and The Green Berets.

“What came through the screen was his presence,” Patrick said. “When he worked in films, you were drawn to him. As an audience you can’t take your eyes off him. Without any trickery or chicanery, he was just like that.”

Referring to actors who would “be doing all sorts of schtick” when they were in a scene with the Duke, Patrick said he would tell his father, “Is this guy kidding?” The elder Wayne would just respond, “I don’t care about that. No one is going to be looking at him anyway.”

While a director could give Patrick particular instructions about a role, they would easily be vetoed by his father’s input.

“My dad would say, ‘Do it this way,’” Patrick said. “And I’d say, ‘Okay, Dad.’”

A man’s man

Audiences the world over saw John Wayne the movie star, the icon of masculinity. To Patrick, he was first and foremost, Dad.

“In his personal life, he had a great sense of humor, which from time to time was shown in the films, but not to the extent that he had,” Patrick said. “He was a warm, sensitive, feeling person, a very thoughtful, considerate, bright person. He was a much more well-rounded person than what you might see in the films.”

What Hollywood accurately captured was the Duke’s larger-than-life presence.

“He could walk into a room and literally everybody would stop talking,” Patrick said. “By the same token, in five minutes he was as charming as they come. He would warm you up and you would be talking to him and you would think from the conversation, from the comfort level, that you had been friends with him for your entire life.”

John Wayne grew up Presbyterian, but he was not churchgoing. He was divorced three times. His first wife, Patrick’s mother Josephine, was a devout Catholic who never remarried after their divorce but never stopped praying for him.

“For the last eight years of her life, she was a daily communicant,” Patrick said. “My mother was driven to be a decent person, and she had the structure of religion as a backbone.”

While John Wayne rarely darkened the doors of a church, Patrick said his father was “one of the most decent men” he still has ever met.

“He believed in the core values of loyalty, honesty, reliability and he lived his life that way,” Patrick said. “That’s the way he treated other people, with respect.”

Fighting cancer, embracing the Church

Josephine’s example and prayers had their intended effect. According to his biographies, Wayne was a spiritual person who hand-wrote letters to God as a way of praying. He also befriended Archbishop Tomas Clavel of Panama.

In the mid-1960s, The Duke successfully fought lung cancer, but by 1978, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He deteriorated quickly.

In May 1979, with Wayne in a coma and dying of cancer, the hospital chaplain, a Catholic priest, came to visit him. Patrick said he went into the room and asked his father if it was okay for the chaplain to see him.

“My dad opened his eyes and said, ‘Okay.’ That was the first thing he said in seven days. I was stunned,” said Patrick, who added that the chaplain emerged about 20 minutes later and told him that he had baptized his father and given him the anointing of the sick.

“He was conscious and made a conscious acceptance of it,” Patrick said. “And two hours later, he passed away.”

Continuing legacy

Today, the John Wayne Cancer Institute carries on The Duke’s legacy. Located in Santa Monica, California and affiliated with the Saint John’s Health Center, the institute has expanded its research efforts to fight many different diseases, including urologic, thoracic, endocrine, gynecologic, and neurologic cancers.

Patrick’s son is also on the board of directors, and his grandsons are showing interest in continuing the work of the John Wayne Cancer Institute.

“So it’s a generational thing,” Patrick said. “There are going to be Waynes to take up the reins for a long time to come.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.