Saturday, August 15, 2009

Remembering Eunice Kennedy Shriver

“As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people, as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.” (Art. 13a, Secular Franciscan Order Rule)

Yesterday, Friday, August 14th, 2009, family and friends of Eunice Kennedy Shriver gathered to say farewell to a remarkable woman. A member of a famous generation of Kennedy’s, if times were different, she too might have made her mark in American politics. Still, she was able to make a difference in the lives of many people; people whom the rest of society were all too ready to ignore or to shut them away, out of sight. Through her efforts for the Special Olympics, she enabled hundreds of people with mental disabilities to the show the world their skills and their courage. She gave them all a sense of acceptance, and love.

Many years ago, when I was a seminarian, I had the privilege to spend some summers at a camp for children with mental disabilities. It was called Camp Fatima and it was in New Hampshire. For a week, these children received a true summer camp experience, with swimming, horse rides, arts, and crafts. It was both challenging and rewarding for me. I made mistakes, but they were forgiving and they still had fun.

We have had, and still have members of our Secular Franciscan fraternity with mental disabilities, and they have been a blessing for us. I have a nephew with Downes Syndrome, who is a joy to the family. In a different era, their lives might have been bleak, but thanks to people like Eunice Kennedy Shriver, their lives are full of promise and hope.

The National Catholic Reporter website has a very nice tribute to Mrs. Shriver.

1 comment:

  1. Mrs. Shriver leaves an incredible legacy. For some additional perspective on the impact that Special Olympics has had, and continues to have, on the lives of countless participants, I invite you to see this short video -- -- about just one Special Olympics athlete and her "aha moment." I think you'll find it inspirational and hope you also explore the rest of site, which was created by Mutual of Omaha to highlight good works, inspirational stories, and "aha moments" of all kinds.

    Thanks --