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April 24, 1998     The Message
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April 24, 1998

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10 The Message u for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Woman with MS starts ministry to By ANN MARIE NYHUIS Catholic News Service WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CNS) -- A Florida woman who has multiple sclerosis has created a new ministry for the homebound. "I thought there had to be something I could do while I was home alone all day, so I considered calling the lonely and sick," recalled Gerri Antho- ny in an interview with The Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Palm Beach Diocese In 1972, Anthony was diag- nosed with MS, a degenerative nervous system disease that four years ago confined her full time to a wheel- chair. "I remember thinking how terrible it was going to be to have to give up my employment; I am a people per- son," said Anthony. MS is a neurological illness signified by multiple areas of inflammation and scarring of the myelin in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin is the tissue that covers and pro- tects nerve fibers. When this occurs, nerve "communi- cation" is disrupted. A person with MS experiences varying degrees of neurological impairment depending on the location and extent of the scarring It has been diagnosed in more than 350,000 people in the United States today, accord- ing to information provfded bv the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation&apos;s Web site. When Anthony's ministry, called "The Sunshine Line," was announced in the parish bulletin, she said she received a positive response. She now calls at least 11 people at Holy Name of Jesus Parish each week who are homebound. There are a few people whom she calls daily, while others she contacts twice a week. All the parishioners say they recognize her voice right away, even before she gets a chance to introduce her- here had to be something I could do... so I considered calling the lonely and sick self, according to Anthony. "It is very rewarding for me and I've made many phone friends," she said. Anthony remembers when Elder Care of Palm Beach County contacted her and asked if she would assist them by contacting a 90-year-old male parishioner because he needed to be reminded to take his medicines. "I am delighted to converse with him every day and also remind him about taking his medications," she said. Anthony listens to peoples' concerns or even their complaints about having to use a cane or walker, but she does not tell them that she is a homebound person herself. "I would never dare tell them. I wish I could do that," she said. Anthony and her husband, Jim, travel a half-hour every Saturday evening to serve as eucharistic minis- ters at Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Church. Jim Antho- ny takes his wife in a van equipped to carry, wheelchairs. r '/ Gerri Anthony sits in the back of parishioners, then when it is husband wheels her close to the Communion alongside the prie  the church. "Gerri has a Christian person," said Father J tor. "Even with her handica herself and reaching out to .... to any community." Jim Anthony has served as a since 1989, and in 1993 Gerri Anthony schedule the eucharistic ministers for month. "I used a eucharistic minister like my Father Murtagh made her wish come true to consider being one. "I thought this was not possible wheelchair would prevent me from altar," she said, recalling that was, "The altar can come to Gerri Anthony believes in miracles one day be standing while giving fellow parishioners and w its to the sick, the lonely and the Meanwhile, she said she o participating at Mass every "It's wonderful to hear inspiration or when they say you' when the), come up to added. Disabled- 'powerful allies' .against culture of so because of depression and fear of dependency and aban- donment," it said. "'Expectant parents are counseled to abort a !ess than perfect child. Some children born with disabilities are left to die without benefit of medical care, nutrition or hydration. I- feal th ,.:are systems iiltent 011 Ct,Lt Colltainrnent dllG assur.inq 'quaiit} ,i: life' deny needed meciicai :-ervices." But the .,,.tatemont defined dis- ability as % normal, anticipated reality, ot the li ing process" and urged church leaders in every of life," said the statement, made public April 9. "Our accounts can quiet the anxieties generated by the advo- cates of death" and "counter the evil campaigns of proponents of death which demean and dex ai- ue the potential and promise ot each of us." the board added. The statement listed some of rht.- 'many dangers faced by people wth disabilities or advanced age in the current cii- mate of death." "Many who seek the final solution of assisted suicide do Natural Family Planning couples find freedom "The sexual revolution is yet to begin!" proclaims Mary R. Joyce, pro-life activist since 1968 and author of eight books and numerous articles on human life NEWS AND COMMENTARY By SOOZI SCHELLER Contributing writer and sexuality. People ache for conjugal freedom, which accord- ing to the Catholic Church involves the sharing of two main gifts between husband and wife in the act of intercourse. In the encyclical, Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI wrote that the conjugal act most closely unites husband and wife and "capacitates them for the gen- eration of new lives according to laws inscribed in the very being of ma n and woman." But for the last 200 years, people have pitted the procreative and unitive aspects of marriage against each other in a kind of tug of war battle. During the-Victorian era, couples came to value the pro- creative gifts but not the uni- tive power of the marital act. Brian Butler, a history profes- sor at the University of South- ern Indiana believes many Vic- torians thought "good" women should not enjoy intercourse. The birth rate dropped from eight children per woman to less than four children per woman without contraception. Husbands and wives slept apart. During the 1920s, couples began to draw away from Vie- torian views. The shift in atti- tude towards sexuality led to another vast change in the cul- ture in the 1960s as couples embraced the unitive aspect of intercourse while rejecting the procreative. The surge in the availability of contraception and legalized abortion over the last 30 years reflects this atti- tude. These changes destroy the procreative gift before, during or after the acts of intercourse. By relieving the "strain" of the procreative gift, advocates of contraception thought mar- riages would flourish and unwanted children would be rare. Instead, the divorce rate, -child abuse and teen pregnan- cy rates have risen to unprece- dented heights. People who practice Natural Family Planning recognize and appreciate both the procreative and the unitive aspects of their conjugal acts. The NFP couple becomes deeply aware of the procreative gift because they are acutely aware of their days of fertility and infertility. The NFP couple treats fertility as a healthy, normal part of their life together. The Natural Family Planning approach enhances the unifive aspect of the mar- riage act through total self-giv- ing and communication. Noth- ing is held back from one another in their conjugal union. They are free! For more one of the Family Mary's 4110; the Planning pital and Jasper at (81 852-7295; Americas cennes at 1 COtl ural the Diocese call St. 485-4265 Health and ST00e M medical news 00,om, Health perspective is a courtesy of Services :?!!!i! WASHINGTON (CNS) Those with disabilities are "powerflfl allies" in the battle against -uch modern-dav. threats to life as assisted suicide and abortion, according to a new statement fri)m the board of director, uf the National ('atholic Office flr Perbons With !)isabilitic<,. "Those '.,'kt value ;oci's iZift of life and ': io can share their positive exveriences of physical, sensory anti cognitive disabili- ties are powerful allies in the struggle to promote the culture diocese "to create understand- dencv and ing and awareness of the gifts demonstrate the which all people offer to our nerabilLty.aS ,i total church and community, t,o ing c matter their disabflmes, said. ,,While 1 Vowing to be "unconditional- words, ly pro-life," the board declared dignity its opposition re 'abortion, with both infanticide, direct and inciirect otferlifeina euthanahia, absisted ,uicide, Fhe n capital punisiment, and every Washington' term ot vcicnce arm abuse , 1982to1 against human beings." t078 pa;toral "While advocates for the cui-" build inclusion' ture of death piay on society's peoplewit growing abhorrence of depen- church . ; ..