Tag Archives: catholic

Ironman Charts New Test of Endurance

Earlier this year, Jonathan Terrell ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

“It was the highlight of my life,” he said.

A few months later, Terrell couldn’t even walk. As of late September, he was still getting about in a wheelchair

And crutches, recovering from the serious injuries he suffered when a sport utility vehicle plowed into him and a friend while they were bicycling in Virginia.

UNEXPECTED JOLT

“There’s nothing like a near-death experience to appreciate what you do have,” said Terrell, 56, a charter member of Legatus’ Washington, D.C. Chapter.

Terrell was hospitalized in critical condition for three weeks, and told there was a chance he would never walk again. Undergoing physical therapy several times a week, Terrell was recovering well and planned to start walking in early October.

He even intends to run again next year, specifically a full marathon in the North Pole.

“I believe through Christ all things are possible,” said Terrell, who through his physical suffering this year is also discerning a deeper meaning and new God-given purpose to his life.

“It’s been a time of spiritual renewal for me,” Terrell said. “I wake up with pain in the middle of the night, and I now pray in the night longer than what I ever would. It’s brought me and my wife closer together.”

7 MARATHONS ON 7 CONTINENTS

On Feb. 5, Terrell was on top of the world. On that day, he ran the final 26.2-mile leg of the World Marathon Challenge.

In one week, Terrell ran marathons on all seven continents. He ran a combined 183.4 miles in Antarctica, South Africa, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Colombia, and Miami.

Those seven days consisted of daily marathons and late-night chartered flights. He caught a bad case of food poisoning shortly before the race in Spain, but he quite literally gutted it out and finished course.

Terrell ran every single mile of all seven marathons. He made it a goal not to walk a single step.

“It went remarkably well,” said Terrell, who completed the crucible to raise awareness and funds for children’s mental health services at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., a cause dear to his heart.

Terrell said he raised about $300,000 for the new mental health unit at Children’s National Health System, and generated significant media attention for the cause of pediatric mental health. His story garnered coverage from several national media outlets, including Fox News and NPR.

Coworkers and people across the country also followed his journey on his blog and on social media. He filmed his first-ever “video selfie” before the marathon in Antarctica, and posted similar videos before and after each of his races.

“They quickly went viral,” Terrell said. “I still hear from people I barely know telling me that they saw my stuff on social media.”

The day after he ran the final marathon in Miami, where his wife and children went to cheer him on, Terrell said he was back at work.

TAKEN TO THE BRINK

After taking time off from serious training — he ran weekly marathons in the months leading up to the World Marathon Challenge — Terrell began preparing this past spring for an Ironman competition in Barcelona, Spain.

On June 30, he and a friend were bicycling near Front Royal, Virginia, when an SUV slammed into him and ran him over. His friend was also injured but not as severely as Terrell.

“I suffered multiple serious injuries and nearly died,” said Terrell, who was airlifted from the scene. His injuries included a broken hip and two fractured vertebrae in his back.

Reflecting on the reality of being in a wheelchair just a few months after running marathons, Terrell said he told people that “they’re really just two chapters of the same book. They both require the same mental discipline to get through.”

While in the hospital, Terrell made a confession and received the anointing of the sick. He was prepared to die, but now feels he was spared for a purpose.

SAVED FOR A PURPOSE

“I believe my guardian angel saved me,” he said. “I have a strong feeling that I was saved for a reason. Part of it is to see my teenage sons become men, but that’s not the only reason, so I’m trying to discern what that reason is.”

The answer to why he survived, Terrell believes, may be that God wants him to get more involved in public service to serve the common good.

“I do have the gifts of being able to inspire,” said Terrell, who describes himself as a policy wonk with “a bleeding heart” who believes that conservative public policies offer the best solutions to helping the poor and vulnerable in society.

Meanwhile, Terrell is hoping to start running a couple of miles a week by year’s end, and be healthy enough by March to complete a half-Ironman in Puerto Rico. Terrell expects to be fully recovered in time for the North Pole Marathon next April.

“It’s just one marathon,” Terrell said. “How hard can it be?”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Five First Saturdays

Last year the church celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Marian apparitions to three young children at Fatima. Most Catholics are familiar with Our Lady of Fatima, have seen this image, and know that these apparitions have been approved by the Church. However, somewhat less well known is that when Mary appeared to the children, she asked them (and us) to do several specific things, and she promised if we (Catholics) observed her requests, there would be peace in the world. I want to share about one of her specific requests — making Five First Saturdays — that Mary asked of the Church during these apparitions.

The First Saturday devotion is separate from the First Friday devotion, although they are often confused. Many Catholics are not familiar with making the First Five Saturdays – In Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but it continues to be important today. As mentioned above, this devotion is in response to our Lady of Fatima’s request to make reparation to her Immaculate Heart, performed with the intention of reparation for blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart for at least five consecutive Saturdays.

There are many pamphlets (and even on-line resources) available that explain in detail the history and specifics of this devotion. However, the four elements that Mary requested are straightforward; they are (1) reception of Communion, (2) Confession (on or shortly before or after the First Saturday), (3) recitation of the five-decade rosary, and (4) mediating for 15 minutes on one or more of the mysteries of the rosary — for five consecutive first Saturdays.

Let me conclude with a quote from Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, who is a modern-day champion of the rosary and Marian devotion. He wrote, “I highly recommend it (making the Five First Saturdays) as a great spiritual practice! Get a monthly tune-up with Confession, Mass, Communion and immersing yourself in the Mysteries of the Rosary, all offered in reparation for the many serious offenses committed against Our Lady. Make the First Saturdays throughout your life for love of Our Lady and reap huge spiritual rewards.”

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

Fitting in vs. hanging in

We Catholics often underestimate the rewards of faithful perseverance.

As in days of old – going back to Old Testament times – God’s chosen people, the Israelites, got tired of being set apart for Him, and demanded that their prophet and judge, Samuel, give them an earthly king (1 Sam 8). “We want to be as other nations,” they raged at Samuel. They longed to enjoy the tantalizations rumored from afar, and taste the comforts, honors, and wealth of neighboring pagan nations – military might, prestige, glory, opulence, and unrestricted carnality. They were late to the party, but could still make it. In reality, Israel had what wealth couldn’t buy – the Ark of the Covenant with God’s law and Presence ever with them, and commensurate protection.

But they preferred earthly kingship to God’s.

I once worked for a major Catholic company exec who said, “We Catholics want to be cool, too, you know” while we were planning a promotional campaign for a new product. He was ready to boogie with Kool and the Gang, and buy in to edgy persuasions to get noticed. It would prove a marketing nightmare and mockery of the company image. I wondered what had gotten to him. What society deems “cool” versus what Catholicism teaches as “worthy” are usually mutually exclusive. But he was serious. The rest of us: overruled.

The product? Failed, at ridiculous cost. Mr. Cool? Still there … go figure.

If philanthropy works to promote the welfare of others, usually by monetary contribution and largesse, even more should Catholics extend spiritual altruism through prayer, sacrifice, and exemplary demeanor. Because without God leading a charge, the Red Sea will inevitably close in.

In late September as bizarre new accusations erupted upon Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his family, and legacy – despite his prevailing in earlier confirmation hearings – Legatus magazine had just gone to press with a profile on him as a Catholic. Each hour’s breaking news was like a sickening psycho film without a predictable ending. Staffers were asking “should we still run the story?” Each time, the same conclusion emerged: he hadn’t been proven guilty of anything. Were we going to abandon him without cause? As rumors gave birth to more shocking ones – a real-life horror flick – it got harder to stay in the theatre.

Final Senate vote was scheduled for Saturday, October 6. The date was gnawing at me. The next day, October 7, would be the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, commemorating the meager Christian army’s prevailing over Muslim myriads at the Mediterranean Battle of Lepanto in 1571 – a miracle-triumph attributed to their rosaries.

A friend in Washington, D.C. told me Kavanaugh was spotted praying in his parish church on that Saturday. October 6 was also the culmination of America’s 54-day coast-to-coast rosary novena.

Amid coven-like protestors screaming in the Senate hall that afternoon, the fifth Catholic Supreme Court justice was voted in, 50-48, on a First Saturday, on the eve of the worldwide Feast of the Holy Rosary –which would be prayed across 57 countries. There’s simply no match for heaven’s intervention.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Touching The Nurturing Heart Of A Mother

Before Legate Bobby Williams set out to open a new pro-life Women’s Care Center in Indianapolis, he did what he always does: he asked the local bishop for permission – and for help.

The help came in the form of names of three key people in the Indianapolis Archdiocese who might aid in kick-starting the project. As it happened, they turned out to be fellow Legates — the late Tom Spencer, and Joan and Bob Smith. With their assistance and that of countless others, the Indianapolis center opened in 2014 next to the nation’s fifth-largest Planned Parenthood facility and since has become the fastest-growing pro-life pregnancy-resource center in the country.

It also is the largest of the 32 centers in Women’s Care Centers’ rapidly expanding network spanning 11 states. The 6,000-square-foot facility provides more than 3,000 3D/4D ultrasounds annually and now serves one in seven babies born in Marion County. In just three years, it has saved more than 6,000 babies from abortion.

Each Women’s Care Center offers free pregnancy tests, ultrasound imaging, counseling, and parenting and child development classes in a homey, accessible setting with eye-catching signage and full- time hours.

Williams, who serves as director of the WCC Foundation, credits the involvement of Legatus members with the success of the Indianapolis facility as well as the care center network’s remarkable growth over the last few years. Although the first Women’s Care Center dates to 1984, much of the network’s development has come more recently, thanks in large part to the prayers, volunteer service, and financial support of Legates, who have caught the vision of Women’s Care Centers and in some cases, have worked to bring them to their communities.

“There is no question that Legatus members have been the prime movers behind Women’s Care Centers’ national success,” Williams said. Last year alone, he added, the centers performed 21,365 ultrasounds and saved 15,052 babies with 94 percent of the pregnant women served choosing life for their babies. “It is no overstatement to say that one of the biggest factors in this success is the quiet, effective, behind-the-scenes support and counsel of Legatus members.”

For example, before he died unexpectedly Feb. 23 at the age of 64, Spencer served on the Indianapolis center’s board and had been among the first to support the project when it was proposed. He also was effective in attracting other supporters, making him someone who will be remembered as one of the center’s “founding fathers,” Williams said.

Likewise, the Smiths were early supporters, contributing a major gift that was instrumental in moving the project forward. “Their boundless generosity gave us the momentum we needed to purchase the property and get the construction well underway,” Williams said. “We were honored to name our main reception room in their honor.”

Bob Smith, who prays daily for the work of WCC, said he and his wife were impelled to help the center primarily through their daughter, Meg Ryder, who serves on the Indianapolis center’s board.

“They’re not only saving babies, they’re also saving mothers, and I think that’s a very crucial difference,” said Smith. Before becoming involved with Women’s Care Centers, he said he and his wife had marched outside a Planned Parenthood facility. “That was quite an experience, but it didn’t do anything to change minds or hearts. What this does is it changes hearts.”

Unlike other organizations seeking to stop abortions, Smith said, Women’s Care Centers go directly to the source – the mother – persuading her with the help of ultrasound technology. “Once a mother can see what’s living inside her – that it’s actually a human being, not just a blob of flesh – she is going to be very much committed to maintaining that life and nurturing it.”

Legate Marianne Price, a WCC supporter whose husband, Frank, is on the board of the Indianapolis center, agreed. “Once women see their baby, it really helps them form a bond.” She said what she and her husband found exciting about the Women’s Care Center approach is that it offers women an attractive and affirming option that can help them make a good choice. “So much of the debate about abortion is vitriolic. People are saying a lot of negative things about both sides. Women’s Care Center is very positive and tries to provide an appealing alternative.”

That the approach works is evident from statistics showing every community with a Women’s Care Center has seen exceptional abortion declines, Williams said. Where centers are more established, abortions have declined an average of 65 percent and abortion clinics have closed. But even communities where centers have opened more recently are seeing decreases.

For instance, in Milwaukee, where the Women’s Care Center was founded in 2010, abortions have already declined 36 percent.

Although there is no shortage of cities that could benefit from having a Women’s Care Center, the organization does not choose where to locate new facilities without an invitation. “There needs to be a committed and passionate person leading the effort for it to be successful,” Williams said.

In South Bend, Ind., where the first Women’s Care Center opened more than 30 years ago, that person was Dr. Janet Smith, then a young professor at the University of Notre Dame. From her efforts and humble beginnings in a little blue house has emerged a nationwide network that includes three new centers opened this year in Berea, Ky.; York, Pa., and Chicago. In just two months, the Chicago center has saved more than 100 babies, indicating there may be a need for additional centers in that city to meet the demand. An existing pregnancy center with three locations in North Dakota also is working to convert its sites into Women’s Care Centers. Future expansion plans include centers in the states of Texas, Virginia, Connecticut, and Florida.

Once an individual or group invites Women’s Care Centers to a community, an assessment is conducted to determine the need for services that would be provided. Next, the local bishop’s permission is sought and, if granted, a location, preferably one next to an abortion provider, is identified. Currently, 22 Women’s Care Centers are near or adjacent to abortion clinics.

“We don’t locate next to abortion clinics to picket or protest, to provide confusion to young women, or to somehow trick them or deceive them into coming into our place by mistake,” Williams said, “but rather, we choose to be there because that’s where the women are.” Generally, he added, if a pro-life facility and an abortion clinic are near each other, pregnant women will go to both facilities. “More than 9 of 10 times, when they go to both, they stay at our facility and choose life . . . All we do is provide choice – life-affirming choice – and it works.”

 

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

For the Love of Gracie

Gracie Ann, not quite two years old, was not well.

Seizures had become more frequent for little Gracie, but she had suffered particularly severe seizures on two consecutive nights and was spiking another fever. She had been home just four days after another hospital stay as she recovered from a stubborn respiratory infection. Her mother, Kerry, administered her emergency medications and gave her a cooling bath.

By morning, the fever had returned, and Gracie was lethargic and acting strangely. Alarmed, Kerry phoned her husband, Jeremy, to come home from work. When he saw Gracie’s labored breathing, they called 911.

“I sat in the ambulance with her as the medics tried to get a line in her,” Kerry recalled. “They had to leave fast, so I gave her the last kiss I would ever give her. That was the last time I saw my sweet angel alive.” Kerry, immune-compromised since her double-lung transplant, could not accompany her daughter to the hospital.

Jeremy rode the ambulance as the EMTs stopped by a fire station and then an emergency room seeking help in getting Gracie’s IV started. Then there was a long, stressful transfer via ambulance to a children’s hospital. Jeremy kept Kerry updated by phone and text message as both prayed fervently.

En route, the situation turned grave, and CPR was initiated. After 24 minutes of chest compressions in the hospital, Gracie Ann was declared dead.

Unable to phone Kerry, Jeremy sent a brief text: “Heaven just acquired an angel.”

Gracie Ann’s death on February 9 of this year was part of a long journey of faith and perseverance for Jeremy and Kerry Lustig of Keller, Texas, Legates of the Fort Worth Chapter. Their story dates to Kerry’s childhood.

Kerry was born with cystic fibrosis, a terminal lung disease, and was not expected to live long. “My parents were told to simply take me home and love me,” she recalled. But her devoutly Catholic mother and father were determined she would survive.

“My parents knew I was fragile, so they prayed a lot and raised me like any other child, staying on top of my appointments, daily meds, and daily therapies,” Kerry explained.

After Kerry and Jeremy fell in love during college and began talking about marriage, Kerry told him about her condition. “I knew that my CF would be a cross that both he and I would have to bear,” she said. It was no obstacle for Jeremy; he soon proposed marriage, and they were wed after graduation in 1997.

Since CF affects fertility, the Lustigs started having children while Jeremy was in dental school. Madison, Savannah and Nicholas were born uneventfully in two-year intervals, but nine years passed before Isaac came along in early 2014.

Because CF is a progressive disease, Kerry had grown sicker over the years. A month after Isaac’s birth, her health took a turn for the worse. She suffered respiratory arrest, was hospitalized, and was placed on a ventilator. Returning home, she struggled to stay well.

In February 2016, in her 30th week of a very difficult pregnancy, Kerry was in the hospital for outpatient lung treatments when she coughed and broke a major vessel in her lung — a life-threatening condition — and was admitted. The next morning, Gracie Ann was delivered via emergency C-section. But Gracie had been deprived of oxygen for several minutes and sustained brain damage, triggering the seizures that would later plague her. Given the situation, Jeremy baptized Gracie in the NICU.

Neither Kerry nor Gracie was expected to survive.

The Lustig family was in full crisis mode. Jeremy’s orthodontics partner managed the practice so he could devote full attention to his wife and infant daughter, dividing his time between the ICU and NICU. Jeremy’s mother moved from Utah to Texas to care for the other four children.

“My father came and went while having to work, but my mom was here indefinitely or until we were self-sufficient,” Jeremy said. During those first three months, Jeremy never left the hospital. “The kids came to the hospital a couple times a week so we could see them,” he said. “They would bring me clean clothes and take dirty ones home. It was very hard on them.”

Many supported the family in faith. “We had so many prayer warriors storming heaven for both Gracie Ann and me,” Kerry said. A prayer network developed out of text messages Jeremy began sending to family and close friends. “As word got out, there was a large influx of people texting me — asking for updates, expressing concern, and offering prayer for Kerry, Gracie, and our family,” Jeremy said. “The list of people in this text thread grew to a few hundred in almost no time.”

Gracie Ann, just 3-1/2 pounds at birth, was touch-and-go at first but “surpassed all reasonable expectations,” Jeremy said. Her survival turned into a roller coaster ride as she suffered bleeding on the brain and fought repeated infections. Kerry also had a rough time: under heavy sedation, she required breathing support for her damaged lungs, had internal bleeding, and required multiple surgeries. Thrice she had to be resuscitated.

Three months later, mother and child were released to go home. Kerry’s lungs were in such bad shape that she was placed on a waiting list for a transplant. “I was really physically struggling,” Kerry remembered. “Before the lung call, I was unable to walk and was on oxygen 24/7. I couldn’t be a mom physically and couldn’t do anything for myself.”

In October 2016, a donor was found and Kerry underwent a double-lung transplant. She faced a long recovery and a lifelong regimen of anti-rejection drugs. By that time, however, Gracie was having seizures. Around her first birthday, she required a feeding tube. During one ER visit, Gracie went into cardiac arrest and was revived. Her seizures became more frequent and severe.

Throughout all these challenges, the Lustigs’ Catholic faith remained strong.

“Jeremy and I have always known and still continue to believe that all our crosses are intended to glorify God, and they have,” Kerry said. “I never lost my faith but held onto it as tightly as I could, for God revealed to me that he alone was the reason I was alive.”

Gracie’s health declined with time. “As the seizures took a toll on her little brain, she began to lose functionality that she had gained against all odds,” Jeremy said. A respiratory infection stretching into early 2018 landed her in the hospital again. Four days after her discharge, Gracie was gone.

“When Gracie Ann passed away, a part of me died. I will always feel an emptiness,” said Kerry. “But Jesus is a gentle Father, and He carries me through my sorrows each day…. We praised Him in the most painful hour when she died, and we continue to praise Him as we must live our lives without her.”

Difficult and painful as Gracie’s death was, the Lustigs believe it drew their family closer together.

“We are stronger in faith today and more in love than ever,” Kerry affirmed. “Our family has benefitted so greatly from this cross.”

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Catholic rehab makes all the difference

People recovering from serious injuries, strokes, life-changing illnesses, and catastrophic accidents often need more than just physical rehabilitation.

Their spirits also need to be uplifted. That is an important insight the staff at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals in Nebraska understands infinitely well.

Rehab involves much more than physical adjustment

“Our patients and our families are sometimes struggling to understand the reason for their condition, not only just the physical aspects of it,” said Paul Dongilli Jr., the president and CEO of Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals.

Dongilli, a speech pathologist by training who is a member of Legatus’ Lincoln Chapter, said people come from 24 different states, as far away as Alaska and Washington State, to be treated at one of Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals’ two locations, in Omaha and Lincoln.

Physicians and nurses in those other states often refer their patients to Madonna because of the cutting-edge, first-rate rehabilitative care that is matched by the psycho-social and spiritual care offered at the facilities.

“When those individuals are paired with our social workers and our psychologists, they’re able to deal with the psycho- social aspects of a devastating injury or illness,” said Dongilli, who has been with Madonna since 1983.

Whereas most hospitals and care centers have small rehabilitation units on-site, Dongilli said Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals are one of the only, if not the lone, freestanding Catholic rehabilitation facilities in the country.

“We’re not part of a larger acute care system, and in most acute care systems, rehabilitation is a small part of what they do,” Dongilli said. “Maybe they don’t invest in the technology and have the resources that are needed to treat patients who have had devastating spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, children as well as adults, where we have, because that’s all we do.”

Founded by Benedictine nuns – with a priest in residence

Benedictine nuns founded Madonna Rehabilitshort-term recovery and room for another 125 individuals who have chronic conditions and require longer-term care. The Omaha facility opened in 2016 and has room for 110 patients.

The facilities today are sponsored by the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, and they retain a distinctive Catholic identity.

Madonna has a Catholic priest in residence, and offers daily Mass and access to the sacraments for patients, their families, and staff. Both locations have beautiful chapels and sacred art throughout the facilities.

“When you come into the facility, the look is such we think that it reinforces that Catholic identity,” Dongilli said, adding that spiritual care is offered for people of different religious and denominational backgrounds.

Patients come from afar

From its beginnings 60 years ago, Dongilli said Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals has evolved into a health care system that serves patients from around the country, primarily from an eight-state region in the Midwest.

“When individuals and their families are faced with these horrific injuries and they’re looking for a facility to help them, in most areas they’re told that they don’t have those resources,” Dongilli said, adding that trauma centers in other states that work with Madonna are quick to refer their patients to the Nebraska facilities.

“So people are willing to travel to access a resource that they can’t get in their immediate community,” Dongilli said.

Madonna has a dedicated pediatric unit and long-term care for patients who require ventilators. The staff specializes in complex medical, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, pulmonary conditions, severe stroke, other neurological conditions, and pediatric rehabilitation.

Offering hope, spiritual recovery

Dongilli, who worked in Madonna’s brain injury and stroke units and worked his way up to chief operating officer and then CEO three years ago, said Madonna offers hope and healing to thousands of patients every year.

“What we provide is a more holistic approach to care, balancing the more physical aspects of medicine, nursing, and therapy with more of the psycho-social and spiritual aspects of recovery,” he said.

In addition to the chapel, Dongilli said Madonna has a large therapy gym and carefully manicured grounds that contribute to the peaceful, spiritual, and mentally healing atmosphere.

“We have been very careful over the years to have green space and nature and some beautiful settings that are part of God’s creation that our families and our patients can access to have some quiet time or for reflection,” Dongilli said. “Those things, we think, very much make a difference and aid in the recovery process. It helps provide hope.”

In addition to focusing on the mental and spiritual healing, Madonna’s team of specialized physiatrists, hospitalists, therapists, rehabilitation nurses, clinicians, and researchers work with advanced technology and equipment to help each patient achieve the highest level of independence possible.

Research institute developing new technologies

Dongilli said Madonna has “a small but mighty” research institute that has been successful in developing technology to support rehabilitation efforts, and added that the technology is now being commercialized and sold to other health care facilities in the United States and abroad.

“We think we have the opportunity now in working with the University of Nebraska to expand our research efforts and develop equipment and technology that will help advance the field of rehabilitation and the outcomes of the patients that we serve,” Dongilli said.

Dongilli added that Madonna started a department to train physicians, and recently accepted the first group of residents from the University of Nebraska’s College of Medicine who will be trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“I think what the future holds for us is to be a regional center, not only for the treatment of patients, but also a training facility for physicians and other professionals specializing in rehabilitation,” Dongilli said.

Founded with Mary’s blessing

The founding Benedictine Sisters named the facility after the Madonna because 1958 was a Marian year, said Dongilli.

“They had a vision that if individuals could have good nursing care and therapy care, that folks who previously had to be institutionalized could return back to their homes and to their communities,” Dongilli said. “They really established a vision for rehabilitation. They recognized the blessings that Mary would provide for their efforts and for hopefully sustaining the hospital and the facility.”

Despite changes in medicine and technology over the decades, Dongilli said Madonna’s core philosophy remains the same.

“That notion of doing God’s work, a vision for doing rehabilitation under the guidance of the Blessed Mother, has really been a core tenet for us,” he said.

 

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Priests – necessary for life

Despite faults, sins, and scandals, problems of perseverance, and crises that have afflicted the priesthood over 2,000 years, the Catholic Church would have no life without Her faithful priests. We cannot lose sight of the beauty and graces that come through our priests, not to mention their irreplaceable support and loyalty when we need them so.

Beginning with His apostles, Christ instituted the priesthood for three reasons: so that His Presence through the Holy Eucharist would be continually accessible to us; and for the sacraments of forgiveness – Confession, and final cleansing and preparation for eternity – Anointing of the Sick. Only Catholic priests can confer those three sacraments in particular, no one else

Many today forget the value of the Anointing of the Sick. But it enables forgiveness of serious sin when a person cannot make a final Confession, and can spare him eternal punishment. It’s critical that a gravely ill Catholic have access to it – his spiritual wellbeing should be prioritized to the end.

Catholic priests are our palpable connection to heaven. Through offering the Mass, bringing
us the essential sacraments, and authoritative counsel and guidance, they are our lifeline to God.

At so many critical junctures in my life – from childhood to middle age – I can point to life- changing priests who kept me on track with God’s presence and will. At my First Holy Communion in 1969, the celestial hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” thundered on the pipe organ as our second-grade class processed forward and knelt along the Communion rail of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Rockville, CT. Boys were in gelled crew cuts, white suits, and dress shoes, and girls in miniature ‘wedding dresses’ and veils, long pipe curls, white patent Mary Janes, and elbow-length white gloves – awaiting our eternal Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Our pastor stopped slowly before each child, flanked by two solemn altar boys in a fog of incense, and suspended the Blessed Host before placing it on our tongue. I had never heard the glorious hymn before, and associated it since with that heavenly day. I later learned the organ, and playing that hymn still brings tears.

In high school, I remember asking our priest questions in Confession I wouldn’t broach in religion class. His authority and inspiration on Catholic teaching, along with his approachability, set me on my way with explanations that were clarifying and calming. He helped me navigate a tumultuous time as a teen and young adult. I’ll never forget him.

When caring for my dad in his final years, I called our parish priest in a panic early one morning as my father was being put on a respirator, in a medically induced coma, and the intensive-care team hurried me on making life-or-death decisions for him. Our priest explained what I could and couldn’t agree to, and as soon as dad was awake, gave him the Anointing. A devout Catholic, dad recognized the rite and prayed each prayer in tandem with him, as medical staff surrounded his bed and joined in.

Let us pray for and support always our faithful priests. As Catholics, we owe them our very lives.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Catholic-College Authenticity

“Truth, beauty, and goodness have their being together,” said the late spiritual writer Father Thomas Dubay, S.M. “By truth we are put in touch with reality, which we find is good for us and beautiful to behold.”

The vision of the university in the classical Catholic intellectual tradition is to encourage students to seek truth, goodness, and beauty. Attention to these three elements, or transcendentals, ultimately will direct students toward a deeper knowledge of God, because what is true, good, and beautiful in creation “reflects the infinite perfection of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 41).

Franciscan University of Steubenville, Wyoming Catholic College, and John Paul the Great Catholic University are among the institutes of Catholic higher education that understand this vision. It’s a philosophy that shapes their Catholic identity and permeates their curricula, campus life, and mission.

Here’s how they do it.

Character counts

“A Catholic university presents itself as separate and distinct from other universities,” said Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville. A key difference “is its Catholic identity, which should pervade every aspect of the University’s operations.

“ Catholic character must be evident in more than name. Visitors to Franciscan University often comment there is something “special” about the campus that goes beyond its physical beauty, said Fr. Sheridan.

The entire Franciscan University family, he explained, “is well aware of the presence of Christ and, as a result, lives the joy of the Gospel in their daily lives through the manner in which they engage each other, embrace the truth of our faith, proclaim the Good News of the Gospel, and value the beauty of living lives focused on developing their relationship with Christ.”

Those transcendentals are incorporated into the core curriculum, particularly in Franciscan’s fine arts offerings and Austrian program. Through these, “our students come to a deeper appreciation of the beautiful along with the true and the good,” he said.

The campus itself reflects beauty. At the heart of campus adjacent to Christ the King Chapel is the Rosary Circle, which envelops the cross.

“Our Catholic identity is not merely etched in our flowers or our architecture. It is at the heart of our mission,” said Fr. Sheridan, “which in turn is the basis for the decisions we make here, including hiring decisions and curriculum choices that are made consistent with the mission of the University.”

Theology, philosophy, and sacred music faculty publicly take the profession of faith and oath of fidelity to magisterial teaching. “People who witness this event each year have told me that it brings tears to their eyes to know that they or their child are part of a university that is truly Catholic,” he said.

The university’s rich sacramental life includes daily Mass, Confessions, and Eucharistic adoration. The student body is overwhelmingly Catholic, and there’s an evangelistic spirit, too: more than 450 students annually volunteer on mission trips to impoverished areas, often where the faith is not fully embraced.

“The witness of the lives of our students and their zeal for living the Gospel life, however, very frequently have a profound impact” on those they serve, Fr. Sheridan said.

Creativity and innovation

“At John Paul the Great Catholic University, we believe in the power of truth, goodness and beauty to transform culture,” said Derry Connolly, president and founder of the institution located in Escondido, Calif. “Students are formed in an environment that cultivates creativity and inspires innovation, values academic excellence and applied learning, and fosters an encounter with the transforming love and truth of Jesus Christ in an authentic Catholic community.”

At JPCatholic, as the university is also known, “Our confidence comes from our identity in Christ, our fidelity to his Church, and our unwavering commitment to one another,” Connolly said.

Great art comes “from the heart,” he said, and so the college forms students by connecting their deep intellectual knowledge of Christ with the creative process inspired by the great works of art.

All students take rigorous Catholic core classes to obtain an in-depth understanding of Scripture. They study theology and philosophy, including the Church’s social, moral, and ethical teachings. A Humanities focus includes the renowned works of literature, art, and music.

John Paul the Great welcomes students of all faith traditions or none, but “Catholic identity is paramount. It is our raison d’etre,” Connolly said.

JPCatholic offers a Catholic learning environment where students can grow both professionally and spiritually. “Outside of the classroom, our unique community of artists and innovators live lives largely centered on their Catholic faith,” Connolly affirmed. Daily Mass and rosary are offered, and there are frequent opportunities for Confession, adoration, retreats, service projects, and spiritual growth.

That’s the true and the good. As for the beautiful, Escondido lies just northeast of San Diego, so students are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, mountains, and wide-open spaces for recreation.

The beautiful is reflected also in the creative emphasis. “The culture of creating art on-campus is pervasive,” Connolly said. “Students are constantly filming, drawing, editing, acting, and ideating. The ongoing productions contribute greatly to large-scale collaboration among the student body and provide major opportunities for developing deep and lasting friendships with like-minded creative students, who are brought together by their shared values based on their deep love for and knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

High plains Catholicism

Glenn Arbery, a Denver Chapter Legate, presides over Wyoming Catholic College, among the newest and smallest entries to Catholic higher education. Having opened in 2007, its enrollment last year of 175 set an all-time high.

“Unique” describes WCC well. In keeping with its rural Wyoming environment, all students learn horsemanship. They study the likes of Aquinas and Aristotle, lyric poetry, Latin, Euclidean mathematics, Western literature, and field science. A Catholic Outdoor Renewal program goes beyond horsemanship to include kayaking, rock climbing, and a 21-day mountain backpacking expedition.

Also unusual is that students cannot keep cell phones on campus, “a deprivation that soon turns into the rare contemporary phenomenon of actually being present to others,” Arbery said.

That all adds up to a powerful way for students to appreciate truth, goodness, and beauty.

“We are very much a college of the Mountain West, but also of the Great Books tradition and the central current of orthodox Catholicism faithful to the Magisterium,” Arbery explained. “All of our students begin to experience the good, first of all, in their experience of their leaders and of each other, and they come to know the beautiful both in the majesty of the Rocky Mountains and in the sublimity of what they study. And everywhere, every day, they seek out what is true, knowing that the wrong path is a matter of life and death, just as it is in the wilderness.”

Rather than offer multiple majors, WCC has every student take the same courses all four years. There is a sequence of 12 courses each in theology and humanities, along with studies in

subjects including philosophy, fine arts, and experiential leadership. “Our Catholic identity takes shape through the very way the curriculum unfolds,” said Arbery.

Every Catholic professor takes the oath of fidelity, and nonCatholic professors pledge not to undermine the Faith. “But even an oath would not ensure a strong Catholic identity if every course did not support it,” he said.

WCC offers daily Mass and Confession, and many opportunities for spiritual direction and prayer. The Mass is celebrated in the Extraordinary Form “about half the time,” said Arbery.

The student body is predominantly Catholic, but other faiths are welcome.

“We are not what the great English poet John Milton calls ‘forcers of conscience,’” he noted. “At WCC, we trust that truth, goodness, and beauty have their own appeal.

“Besides,” he added, “the real work is always God’s.”

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Hidden heroes in Christian ‘uniform’

It is in bad times that we discover true friends. The world is noisy, fast-paced, and obsessed with productivity. To visit those in the hospital or in a prison is to value them based on who they are, not what they have or what they can do. It is not fun to visit people when they are hurting, but it is a great act of mercy. At those times, they need other people the most – they need their presence and to know they care.

I work in nursing homes for my career as a mobile eye doctor. Each day I treat people who in many ways are chronically sick. They often feel like prisoners because, in a world obsessed with doing and having, they cannot do much of anything, and they do not have much of anything. They have lost their independence and can no longer take care of themselves. They cannot go anywhere without someone to take them. They have lost their homes and the majority of their possessions. Many are widowed and alone. Many are constantly hurting, physically and emotionally. Many wonder why they are still alive.

Because of my career, I can recognize the value of a simple visit. Of course, prison ministry, which involves going into actual prisons, is a powerful experience. Those who have hit bottom are often very open to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The hope of Jesus is often the only thing they have left. They are searching for mercy and compassion. They want a second chance, and they can find it in Jesus Christ. They often need somebody to bring them this hope and good news and speak to them of the greatest and truest freedom – the freedom from sin and death.

We can all go to the sick and the homebound. As I see patients in nursing homes, a recurring theme in each diagnosis list is depression. They are lonely and often feel forgotten. Your potential to make a difference in a nursing home is unfathomable. One daughter whose mother was in a nursing home told me about a grumpy old man she would see when visiting her mother. He always had a frown, he was always inconsiderate to the morning aides, and he never participated in any activities. One day her family decided that the next time they went to visit her mother, they would bring the old man a card and some flowers, just to say they cared. After doing so, the nursing staff said the old man was a different person. He began participating in activities and was much kinder and more considerate to those around him.

If you have children, bring them to nursing homes. Souls are healed by being with children, and in many ways, so are the body and the mind. Children bring life and joy, and their mere presence can make somebody’s day in a nursing home.

Excerpt by John R. Wood, from Chapter 6 “Sacrifice and Service,” of his latest book The Light Entrusted to You: Keeping the Flame of Faith Alive (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2018), pp. 253-55 – “Visit the Sick and the Imprisoned.” www.ignatius.com

JOHN R. WOOD is a mobile eye doctor from Ohio, and a bestselling author – including the book Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Mission. He and his wife, Kristin, are parents of four children. They have dedicated their lives to sharing their faith with others in practical and engaging ways through their ministry, Extraordinary Mission.

CATECHISM 101

The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, and comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity; it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2447

Read, read, read

As summer ends and students head back to school, Catholic education is our theme for this issue. I do not think the importance of Catholic education can be overstated, as it is so critical to shaping the minds and hearts of our children and young adults.

Yet, the process of studying and learning is never meant to end! As you know, a part of the induction into Legatus is the pledge to study, live, and spread the faith. Recently, I read To Light a Fire On The Earth by Bishop Robert Barron (with John Allen Jr.) and this quote struck me:

“… Barron’s unwavering belief in the importance of truth is why his standard response to anyone who asks his advice about how to get started as an evangelist is, read, read, read.”

I hope that all legates would put spiritual books on their reading list. At the head of the list I think should be the Bible and Bible commentaries such as the Navarre Commentaries and the series recently done by the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit called the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (www. CatholicScriptureCommentary. com).

Also near the top of the list of course would be the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). In fact, we have a badge pin to recognize anyone who reads it from cover to cover. It can be done in little bits at a time and over a period of time.

I have also found that the lives of the saints are often very inspiring to read. However, some that were not originally written in English can be a bit awkward depending on the quality of the translation, so it can be helpful to read a review of the certain translation before purchasing.

There are many good Catholic books coming out every month. Ignatius Press, Tan Books,

Sophia Press, and others are all great sources. You will not find much in secular bookstores, but most are available on Amazon if you do not have a local Catholic bookstore near you.

Many prominent, former Protestants have told me they read themselves into the Catholic Church. We legates are already in the Church, but we can nourish our faith by taking advantage of this vast array of spiritual books available to us. If you have read a good book, let us know about it.

Read, read, read.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.