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Evansville, Indiana
August 2, 1991     The Message
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0 The Message w for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana August 2, 1991 Catholic parents struggle to understand daughter's suffering with The Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Palm Beach Diocese, Mrs. Bergalis sat next to her blonde- haired, blue-eyed daughter, now so emaciated and diseased that she cannot talk or walk. "Kim could have easily laid out in her backyard and qui- etly slipped away," Mrs. Bergalis said. "This is a tragedy as it is, but if we had not done anything it would have been more of a tragedy. "I feel in my heart that this is her assignment," she added. "I am sure her mission in life was to educate people about AIDS and bring it to at- tention that it is not just a gay disease." In December 1987, while a student at the University of Florida studying for a career as an actuary, Kimberly went to Dr. David Acer in Fort Pierce to have her wisdom teeth extracted. Two years later, in December 1989, she was diagnosed as having AIDS. "It was the shock of my life and my family's as well," Kimberly wrote in a much- By Susan McLain Sullivan Catholic News Service FORT PIERCE, Fla. (CNS) -- As 23-year-old Kimberly Bergalis lay dying of AIDS at her family's home, Anna and George Bergalis struggled to understand why their daugh- ter contracted the disease. Hers is the first confirmed case of an AIDS-infected doc- tor infecting a patient, ac- cording to the Centers for Dis- ease Control in Atlanta. Her parents say their Catholic faith has given them the fortitude to help Kimberly achieve something by her deatb -- to see federal legisla- tion enacted to require cer- tain health workers to be test- ed for AIDS and to punish those who are infected but fail to tell patients of their disease. "It is such a shock to us," said Mrs. Bergalis, a public health nurse. "Our goal is to keep it from happening to other families. It should never have happened to this family, either." During a July 19 interview Golden Jubilarians Roman "Heinie" and Agnes (Daunhauer) Schue of Mariah Hill will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving August 18 at Mary Help of Christians Church, Mariah Hill. There will be a dinner following the Mass for the immediate family, followed by an open house for relatives and friends from 2 to 4 p.m. at the new parish hall. The couple was married August 12, 1941, at Mary Help of Christian Church. They have three children, Jennifer Ownby of Chandler, Ar., and Jerry Schue of Dale. Their son, George, is deceased. They have six grandchildren. They are the retired owners of Schue's General Store. Musicians condemn use of canned music for liturgies WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A national organization of full- time professional church mu- sicians has condemned the use of "prerecorded accompa- niment" for liturgical music, except in those limited cir- cumstances permitted by church norms. "To replace live musicians with prerecorded music would be akin to replacing live homilists with recordings by theologians," said a reso- lution from the National As- sociation of Pastoral Musi- cians"dtvision for directors'of music ministries approved at the organization's annual meeting. "In particular, we deplore the manufacture, advertising and sale of devices designed explicitly to provide prere- corded instrumental accom- paniment for the singing of the assembly during liturgical celebrations," the group said. In another resolution the musicians urged parish, diocesan and national action to upgrade the "low salaries and poor benefits" of past'oral musicians. publicized letter to Florida health officials in April, pleading for laws to protect others by requiring health professionals to be tested for the AIDS virus. After the diagnosis, investi- gations began, going back as far as her grade school days at St. Anastasia School in Fort Pierce. Kimberly didn't fall into the categories of typical AIDS victims: She said she had never used drugs and was a virgin. She said she had led a chaste life, having made the decision, in accordance with her Catholic Upbringing, to wait for marriage for sexual relations. Genetic sequencing tests eventually linked Acer's AIDS virus with Kimberly's strain. The Bergalis family later discovered that some health officials in Florida were aware of Acer's AIDS three months before Kimberly went to see him. The family's pastor, Father Mark Christopher of St. Anas- tasia Church, said Kimberly's experience has been "almost biblical. If you are suffering, your message will come through." He said she is frustrated that AIDS is seen as a "politi- cal issue rather than a medi- cal issue." But without her, she said, the warning would not get through. "When Kimberly speaks, because she was young and vibrant" and because hers is the first confirmed case of a patient infected by a doctor, "now she is being heard," Fa- ther Christopher said. "I think if it were not for Kim- berly we would still be back in the days when we were spreading condoms and clean needles and blaming the Haitians and gays. She brought it out of that era and now she is winning." Kimberly has forgiven Acer, who died Sept. 19, 1990, the pastor said, but the continued absence of laws to test doctors is a source of anger. Father Christopher said Kimberly hopes to live long enough to see the U.S. House of Representatives pass the Golden Jubilarians Joseph and Frances (Dick) Koch of Wadesville will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiv- ing at 1 p.m. August 11 at St. Francis Xavier Church, Poseyville. A reception for family and friends will follow in the cafeteria. The couple requests no gifts. They were married June 14, 1941, at St. Boniface Church, Evansville. They are the parents of eight children, Juanita Singer and Janet Scheu, both of Evansville, Judi Gottfried of Naperville, I11., Mike of Wadesville, Tom of Osaka, Japan, Robert of Wallingford, Ct., Roberta Hudnall of Vincennes, and David of Mount Vernon. They have 22 grandchildren. He is self-employed in sheet metal. so-called Bergalis Bill, al: ready approved in the U.S; Senate, which would direct states to require that health: professionals engaged in cer  tain procedures be tested for the AIDS virus. Another bill passed by the Senate man- dates prison terms for health workers who know they have AIDS but fail to inform pa- tients. Mrs. Bergalis asked Kim berly if she was pleased by the Senate vote. Very slowly pressing eight keys on a lap" top computer with which she communicates, Kimberly typed, "E-C-S-T-A-T-I-C." Her determination to see such legislation pass has its roots in her upbringing, ac- cording to her father, finance director for Fort Pierce. "As with most parents, you try to place your children in an environment that they will grow up and live with the values you teach them," he said. "I anticipated that she was a strong enough girl in her faith that she would pra" tice her convictions." ; "I also credit the Catholic school system here," Bergalis added, "I think it helped pre- pare her for this situation, They prepared her for life and death." Mrs. Bergalis agreed, recall-:' ing that when one of Kimber- ly's girlfriends, a 16-year-old classmate at John Carroll High School, was killed in an automobile accident, the Catholic high school "had all these prayers and Masses and that helps prepare them for what life is all-about." "I think this is where you put your faith into practice by believing in eternal life," she added. "It does sustain us. 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