Mass at Misericordia
by Linda Buchalo
There are many times that I truly appreciate Misericordia, but Saturday Mass is one occasion when I always feel grateful that my son, Andy, lives here. The entire ceremony is a testament to all that is good in the Misericordia community. This article is my personal story of the two reasons why this liturgy has so much meaning for me.
As a child, going to church was something I tolerated because I wasn’t given an option. I didn’t really learn to appreciate the Mass until I was older and began to understand more about the faith that I had always practiced. Andy has always been tuned in to liturgy. Many times, when I was cross or impatient with him, he reminded me what the priest said at his homily. If the presider skipped over a word or even a prayer, Andy would be sure to bring it up after Mass. He always looks forward to going to church. One of my concerns for Andy was finding a place where he can attend Mass, grow in his faith, and continue to participate in something that is very important to him.
Michael’s Faith Journey
by Deborah Early
When Michael entered Misericordia Home, he had attended church but was not Catholic. We encouraged him to attend Mass and participate in any religious events on campus. Michael immediately became interested in the Mass and was intrigued with the concept of carrying the cross. Father Jack told him there was a long wait list. After a few years and a lot of pestering from Michael, Father Jack explained that he had to be Catholic to serve at Mass. Michael’s response? “How do I become Catholic?” When asked if he really wanted to do that, he expressed an interest in learning more about it and then making a decision.
Truly A Heart Full of Mercy
by Jule Ward
For thirty years, our family shared the care of two of our children, Kristin and Johnny, with Misericordia Home. Many treasured memories of our family’s time at Misericordia live in my heart, but the ones I remember best are times when its generosity of spirit lit up like a giant Christmas tree.
In 1985, when we took our son Johnny for his first visit to the school, we shared dinner with a friendly group of fellows in one of the Village Homes. At the end of dinner, one resident pushed back his chair. “I’d like to stay and have dessert with you,” he said, “but it’s my night to volunteer at the homeless shelter.” His words solidified my instinct that Johnny would find love and empathy among his new housemates.
Some years later, the students at the Learning Center engaged in a geography program which focused deeply on one nation each year. Through their studies, they became aware of hunger in the world. This realization heightened the gratitude they felt for the abundance of care they received at Misericordia and motivated them to help those less favored. With their teachers’ help, they organized an on-campus “Walk for Hunger”. Family and friends pledged funds to support the walk.
The Wonder of the Misericordia Bakery
by Terry Baugh
Misericordia held a warm place in my heart even before I heard about the Hearts and Flour Bakery. My friends, Barb and Dave, had undertaken a long and nearly impossible search to find a nurturing place for their son, Seth, to live. When he was accepted at “Les Mis” as they fondly refer to it, the search ended, and Barb moved to Chicago to be close to Seth. Visiting Barb in Chicago and volunteering at the bakery was a great opportunity for me to catch up with my friend and spend a week working hard and feeling great about every day.
Volunteering for the bakery at Misericordia is a satisfying experience in giving back. The bakery is a hub of activity, with experienced bakers and novices, like me. I volunteered in 2019 just before the holidays. Christmas music played in the background and staff and volunteers and residents cheerily greeted each other as new people arrived for their shifts. Got a hairnet or hat? Apron? Gloves? You are ready to go.
Jon’s Misericordia Thank You Story
by Cynthia Maroon
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 40 years since that day when Vicki and Patty Gloor, two of my best friends, and I drove Jon for his placement at Misericordia South. He was only 4 ½ years old, and it was one of the most difficult days of my life. Little did I know that it was also the beginning of what’s become Jon’s full, rich life! I must admit that for the first six years I felt guilty and sad, and I would cry on the way home after taking him back following our frequent home visits. But as the years rolled by, I slowly began to realize that Jon was not only happy at Misericordia South, but he was thriving there! He was surrounded by staff who called him “Chocolate Eyes,” and who could offer him so much special attention, loving care, and stimulation. With all of that, coupled with his weekly home visits where he was constantly entertained by his brother, Michael, and his sister, Laura, and all their friends, Jon was living what I can only call “the good life”! Eventually Misericordia started bussing him out to school in Oak Park and I could also visit him frequently when I became his elementary school, middle school, and finally his high school “honorary room mother”.
Transcending Sports: A Different Kind of Champion
by Jim Varey
My brother, Steven, swims in the Men’s 50m Freestyle at the Special Olympics. Let me tell you about the last time he competed. Stephen had a great start, but hit a wall about three-quarters of the way through the race. I stood on the deck, but once he completed the initial 25m, I couldn’t see him on the return pass. When I did see him, it seemed he thought the race was completed. He was clearly gassed and aware that everyone was finishing ahead of him. But he dug deep in a futile effort to make up as much time as he could, even though it was evident that he couldn’t win or even place.
At this point, I stopped recording and hustled over to the top of his lane. The gym had previously been bustling with ovations and cheers, but now was eerily quiet. Before Steven put his head down to give it his all, he looked right at me as if to say, “I’m finishing this damn race!” For a moment, nothing else mattered and there was no one else in that gym besides my little brother and me. It was if we were kids back in Carol Stream at the Aldrin Swimming Center, trying to get to the last wall.
Saying Goodbye to My Sister Kathy
by Elizabeth Green
On a regular basis, everyone sees how wonderful, talented and amazing our staff is. We hear from Sister Rosemary that we share our family members with our Misericordia family and never was this so obvious to our family than during the end of life.
Recently, my sister, Kathy, was in her last days. My parents and I experienced our McAuley staff at their finest. From the start of the end of life process, the staff let us know that they would be there for us, to support us through every step of the process.
We were able to be in constant contact with Kathy’s Director, Q, nurses and CNAs. They were all open to us calling in to check on Kathy when we couldn’t be there. They made sure she had all of her comforts and favorites: pillows, food and, most importantly, hugs and love.
Move in day for Jason and Sean
by James Lee
On a warm August morning, we received a call informing us that Jason and Sean would be moving into the Rosemary Connelly Home at Misericordia on November 7, 2016.
It was one of the hardest challenges that we had had to face in almost 20 years! Jason being three years older than Sean, gave us such a hard time. He knew exactly what was happening. We were breaking his daily routine. Our boys are non-verbal and non-ambulatory, but both understood everything that was going on.
Several years earlier they were diagnosed with BCAP-31, a very rare genetic disorder.
A Mis Mom’s Journey
by Diane Carpenter
When our daughter Beth was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 ½ and the severity of her disability became apparent, the never-ending worry began of who would take care of her when I no longer could.
As she got older, the realization that she would need to live in a residential facility someday was too heart breaking to contemplate, so it got pushed back to the “I’ll think about that later” part of my brain.
23 years ago when Beth was 14, Rob, a friend of ours whose daughter lives at Misericordia, told us all about Mis. He and his wife took us for lunch at the Greenhouse Inn and arranged for us to go on a tour to see what Mis was all about. We were quite impressed. I picked up an application which sat on my desk for 6 years because I wasn’t mentally ready to fill it out. Rob then gently reminded us that we should at least get the application in. So, I called Mis and got an updated one, and it sat on my desk for another 6 years.
by Judy Wall
Christy was our first child and first grandchild for my family. Joy and excitement were ours during her early weeks and months. I began to get my feet under me as a mom, Jim adjusted to the newness of being someone’s dad, and Christy, well Christy was a happy, healthy, beautiful, bright infant full of smiles and coos. In December of 1977 Christy turned 5 months old, her seizures began, and life as we knew it ended. Any simple assumptions we had about the road ahead were erased, although we did not yet know this. The first seizure lasted 2 hours, brought an ambulance ride, a hospitalization, tests, and anticonvulsants. As well as the hope that terrible experience would never recur. Of course, within a few weeks another seizure came, and now through her 45 years they have never stopped coming. They sneaked around every anticonvulsant and treatment and continued to cause damage. As the years have gone on, they have robbed my precious daughter of so much. But those of you who know Christy see a happy, smiling, joking girl who has boundless love to give.
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