|Mme Lejuene addressed the gathering.|
At first, my daughter and I were awestruck by the Embassy's elegance: soaring, frescoed ceilings, marble foyers, and dramatic two story windows framed by velvet draperies. Waiters proffered champagne flutes and savory hors d'oeuvres. World-renowned scientists chatted with businessmen and clergy while well-dressed children whose almond eyes bore the signature of an extra chromosome, darted between adults.
But what instantly made me feel at home was the love which which permeated the gathering.
|Dr William Mobley and LeticiaVelasquez.|
Love was indeed the theme that evening. Those of us who have worked to support the research and improve the public understanding of Down syndrome, separately met, shook hands and became friends. I was honored to thank, once again, the widow of my hero, Dr Jerome Lejeune,
|Mme Lejeune and Leticia.|
Madame Berthe Lejeune, for her sacrifice as the wife behind the great man during his lifetime, and as the President of Fondation Lejeune after his death. I met columnist and fathers of daughters with Down syndrome, Matthew Hennessy, and Kurt Kondrich, and was able to thank Stephanie Hall Meredith for her work with The Human Development Institute.
I had very little time to meet everyone there who has done great work advocating for those with Down syndrome, but the man I met as we left the Embassy surprised me by his presence.
Fr George Rutler, so impressive in his EWTN series "Christ in the City" was quietly waiting for his coat when I boldly asked him the question which had been on my mind every anniversary of 9/11. "Father, I heard that you gave general absolution to the first responders entering the Twin Towers on 9/11. Is that true?" He looked at me a bit startled at the question, seemly out of nowhere, then his eyes took a distant look as he began to relive the tragic events which he witnessed firsthand as a priest in New York City who instantly rushed to the scene.
I quickly regretted reviving those painful memories, as a tear welled up in his eye, but he didn't seem to mind recalling that day, painful as it was. He affirmed that he had indeed given wartime absolution to those entering the Towers, because, as he said, we were at war, suddenly and unexpectedly in our own land. But Fr Rutler refused to dwell on his own vital, soul-saving role in the events of that tragic day. He told me the moving story of the heroism of Fr Mychal Judge, who was killed while hearing the confessions of first responders entering the Towers to their deaths. He recalled how Fr Judge's body was laid at the foot of the altar of old St Patrick's Cathedral downtown, his spilled blood still flowing down the marble steps. A true alter Christus, offering himself to the last drop of blood for Christ's body, the Church. These two priests, like the crowd in the Embassy were about love. Love which doesn't count the cost as it " bears all things, hopes all things. believes all things." (ICor:13:7)
|Gabriela and Leticia Velasquez, Mme Lejeune, Dr Elizabeth Rex.|
efforts in the service of those beautiful people whom God had given us to bless our families.