Atlanta, Ga., Apr 25, 2010 (CNA) - Marie Corrigan is the classic “steel magnolia,” a woman who has weathered some of the harshest tests of motherhood—losing one child and then waging a long battle so that her learning-challenged child could go to school.
But it is also her long-standing commitment for not only her own children, but for other children, that recently garnered her the Georgia Mother of the Year Award. Corrigan is founder of the Sophia Academy, an Atlanta K-8 faith-based school for children who have learning challenges.
She received accolades from friends, family and teachers recently at a celebration at the school in her honor. Among those giving congratulations were several previous Georgia mothers of the year and one national mother of the year.
A twin, Caroline was born prematurely weighing barely one pound; her sister Claire died soon after birth. Grieving, Corrigan prayed in the hospital daily for Caroline as she fought for her life in the newborn intensive care unit. Doctors speculated that if Caroline lived, she would not have a “normal” life—she wouldn’t talk, walk or be able to gain normal cognitive skills.
Those were fighting words for the new mom.
“When we were in the hospital with Caroline, I was not thinking about being faithful (to God)—I was too upset, too mad, but I dumped all my frustration through prayer,” Corrigan recalls. “I would spend all day at the hospital saying the rosary.”
Caroline would spend a month in the NICU, coming home on oxygen and still very tiny.
As a former nurse, Corrigan knew the fundamentals of taking care of her child but faced additional challenges as Caroline grew older. As the years progressed, she tried to balance her eldest daughter’s needs as she and her husband, Victor, added to their family: two more girls and a boy. Caroline tried to keep up with her siblings but still remained behind her peers developmentally.
Corrigan remembers crying when she learned that her eldest daughter would not get into kindergarten at their parish school, Christ the King. At 5 years old, Caroline was still only about 20 pounds and delayed in her motor and speech skills.
The couple searched for a Christian-based school that offered a rigorous curriculum, fine arts and athletics for students with learning differences, a school that could nurture their daughter and let her grow in her own gifts.
Caroline went to several schools over the years, but she didn’t thrive.
“Over the years, I had constantly prayed to God to me get out of this situation, to help Caroline—I’ll do anything you want me to do,” Corrigan says, as she recalled “bargaining” with God to help her with her daughter as she grew.
“When it became clear that Caroline would not be able to attend Catholic school, I began ‘hearing’ God’s voice … ‘I’ll do a school for you.’”
That seemed a daunting directive for a mom juggling the demands of young children. But Corrigan knew it was the right thing to do.
“I wanted a school that would instill in children to be the best people they can be and include faith-type programs, like Easter and chapel—those things were important.”
Corrigan tested her idea on her women’s Bible study. “Their (attitude) was more ‘good luck,’ versus, ‘wow what a great idea,”’ she said.
“I think people thought I was crazy—here I was a nurse, with three other young children, thinking about starting a school.”
She received encouragement from her husband and from her pastor, the late Msgr. Thomas Kenny.
So she forged ahead. In 1999, she started the school in rented space from a Baptist church in Sandy Springs. Caroline was enrolled. She was almost 10.
It was a bumpy start. And after one particularly frustrating and despairing day, she came home in the early afternoon and just “wanted to sit in my car and cry,” Corrigan says. But then she had an unusual visit.
“I look up and see this man in a white painter’s suit—we had some painting done at our house—so I thought maybe he was looking for work. I got out of the car and told him, ‘I don’t need any painting today.’ But he didn’t ask me for a job; he just gave me a textbook with a cover with an eagle on it and a bible verse.”
The verse on the jacket cover was from the book of Isaiah: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
“Then he left, and I never saw him again.”
The uplifting message, and the odd way it was delivered, gave her courage, she says.
“It was such a turning point for me … I got back into the car and went back to the school … I realized that this school was going to keep going.”
This past year Sophia Academy marked its 10th year with more than 200 students. It received dual accreditation by both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Southern Association of Independent Schools.
And Corrigan’s honor isn’t just for starting her own school: in the past few years, she worked with state Rep. Edward Lindsey, who wrote to recommend Corrigan’s nomination as Georgia mother of the year.
“Georgia owes a great deal to her for her efforts,” Rep. Lindsey said. It was during the Georgia General Assembly in 2007 and 2008 that Corrigan worked closely with him on the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act. The act enables public school children with learning disabilities to be eligible for vouchers so that they may attend another public or private school in order to better address their educational needs.
Corrigan also received recommendations from her church pastor, Father Frank McNamee, of the Cathedral of Christ the King, and from John O’Connor, executive director of special services for the Dekalb County School System, as well as praise from the board members of Sophia Academy.
But perhaps most significantly, the Corrigans’ daughter, Caroline, who is now 21 years old, has received not only the HOPE scholarship but many other scholarships, is active in a sorority and is completing her college degree; her siblings are in college and high school as well. Today Caroline is just a college student, but her legacy remains grounded in her mom’s determination to make a difference in her life.
Whether or not she is named the nation’s top mom, Corrigan will continue her stint as Georgia Mother of the Year, as an advocate of the group’s causes, among which are preventing child abuse and promoting literacy.
“I hope that I can make Georgia proud,” Corrigan said. “I am humbled to have the honor of being mother of the year—and I hope that it will bring awareness to our school.”
Printed with permission from The Georgia Bulletin, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
CNA STAFF, Apr 25, 2010 (CNA) - On April 28, the universal Church will celebrate the feast day of Louis-Marie de Monfort, a 17th century saint who is revered for his intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
St. Louis-Marie is perhaps most famously known for his prayer of entrustment to Our Lady, “Totus Tuus ego sum,” which means, “I am all yours.” The late-Pope John Paul II took the phrase “Totus Tuus” as his episcopal motto.
Born in Montfort, Brittany, on January 31, 1673, St. Louis-Marie possessed a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament as a child was and intimately devoted to the Blessed Virgin, especially through the Rosary. He took the name Marie at his confirmation.
The saint manifested a love for the poor while he was at school and joined a society of young men who ministered to the poor and the sick on school holidays. When he was 19, he walked 130 miles to Paris to study theology, gave all he had to the poor that he met along the way and made a vow to live only on alms. After his ordination at 27, he served as a hospital chaplain until the management of the hospital resented his reorganization of the staff and sent him away.
St. Louis-Marie discovered his great gift for preaching at the age of 32, and committed himself to it vigorously for the rest of his life. He met with such great success that he often drew crowds of thousands to hear his sermons in which he encouraged frequent communion and devotion to Mary.
But he also met with opposition, especially from the Jansenists, a heretical movement within the Church that believed in absolute Predestination, in which only a chosen few are saved, and the rest damned. Much of France was influenced by Jansenism, including many bishops, who banished St. Loius-Marie from preaching in their dioceses. He was even poisoned by Jansenists in La Rochelle, but survived, though suffered ill health after.
While he recuperated from the effects of the poisoning, he wrote the masterpiece of Marian piety, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which he correctly prophesied would be hidden by the devil for a time. His seminal work was discovered 200 years after his death.
One year before he died, St. Louis-Marie founded two congregations: the Daughters of Divine Wisdom – which tended to the sick in hospitals and the education of poor girls, and the Company of Mary, missionaries devoted to preaching and to spreading devotion to Mary.
Rome, Italy, Apr 25, 2010 (CNA) - The Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project has announced a special retreat for philanthropists and business executives will be held in conjunction with a May conference on Dietrich von Hildebrand in Rome. It is intended for those “seeking the roots of cultural renewal.”
The three day retreat, held May 27-29, has as its theme “Do Ideas really have consequences?”
An announcement for the retreat noted the importance of exploring the consequences of ideas and knowing whether ideas or human actions are more consequential.
For anyone dedicating resources to cultural renewal, or contemplating doing so, it is a “necessity” to find satisfactory answers to such questions, the retreat announcement said.
“Should one focus entirely on supporting action, or should one also dedicate resources, even significant resources, to supporting thought?” it asked.
The retreat will also provide opportunities for “high-level networking” with participants and leading churchmen, diplomats, journalists, academics and others who will join various portions of the retreat.
John Henry Crosby, founding director of the Hildebrand Project, will host the retreat. Announced attendees include philosophers Alice von Hildebrand and Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, First Things editor Joseph Bottum and philanthropist Roberta Green Ahmanson.
John Templeton Foundation executive Stephen Klimczuk and Robert Moynihan, editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, will also attend.
The retreat takes place amidst an international conference on the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand at the University of Santa Croce in Rome.
Von Hildebrand has been praised by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, as a man who will be considered “most prominent among the figures of our time.”
The philosopher, who died in 1977, stressed the importance of love, saying: “Love alone brings a human being into full awareness of personal existence. For it is in love alone that man finds room enough to be what he is.”
St. Louis, Mo., Apr 25, 2010 (CNA) - The misdeeds of a few priests who have committed “atrocities” should not overshadow the “great deeds” done by priests and religious of the Catholic Church, two leading African American ministers from St. Louis have said.
Writing in the St. Louis American were Pentecostal Bishop Alphonso Scott of the Lively Stone Church of God and Bishop Jesse Battle of the House of Deliverance Church. They are respectively president and vice-president of the Ecumenical Leadership Council, which represents hundreds of predominantly African American churches in Missouri.
Noting the headlines about sexual misconduct and abuse by Catholic priests, they said those truly convicted of “such atrocities” should at minimum no longer serve in any clerical capacity.
“However, while emotions are rightfully vested in anger, the membership of the Ecumenical Leadership Council would ask the public to remember that the Catholic Church has been a leader in relieving pain and suffering in the world, and in St. Louis,” they continued.
“Their worldwide generosity has all too frequently been the difference between a significant number of the world’s poor going hungry and homeless, and having a warm meal and secure shelter.
“We believe that the misdeeds of a few should not be allowed to cast a shadow on the great deeds done daily by the priests and nuns of the Catholic Church.”
The two Protestant bishops noted that Catholic Charities had raised $82 million last year to help the less fortunate in St. Louis. They reported that the Catholic Archbishop of St. Louis Robert J. Carlson has reached out to bridge racial divides through dialogue with organizations like the Ecumenical Leadership Council.
“We strongly support the healing that obviously must occur in the Catholic Church. We acknowledge the alleged abuses of imperfect priests; however, we also know that imperfection is a human condition to which all humans are susceptible.”
The two clergymen said they look forward to working with Archbishop Carlson and the Catholic clergy of St. Louis to continue their missions of spiritual guidance and leadership for worshipers of their respective faiths.
Vatican City, Apr 25, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
At noon today, Pope Benedict prayed the Regina Coeli with the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square. On this, the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Holy Father reminded the faithful of the ever-present importance of praying for those who may be called to consecrate their lives to God.
“The first kind of testimony that encourages vocations is prayer,” said the Holy Father. He recalled St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, who, “supplicating God with humility and persistence, obtained the grace of seeing her son convert to Christianity." St. Augustine acknowledged this, writing, “without doubts, I believe and affirm that, through her prayers, God has granted me the intention of not putting first, not wanting, not thinking, and not loving anything that doesn’t reach the truth.”
The Holy Father invited parents “to pray that the hearts of their children be open to hearing the Good Shepherd and that each small seed of a vocation may come to be a leafy tree, full of fruits for the good of the Church and for all humanity.”
“How can we listen to the voice of the Lord and recognize it?” asked the Holy Father. “The voice of Christ resounds in the teachings of the Apostles and their successors, which call us to communion with God and to the fullness of life. Only the Good Shepherd cares for his flock and defends it from evil with intense tenderness. And only in him can the faithful place their complete confidence.”
The Pontiff also exhorted all ordained ministers to feel committed to “an ever stronger and more incisive Gospel testimony in today’s world. Remember that priests continue the work of redemption on earth,” he said. “They are available to listen and to pardon. They form your community in the Christian faith. They cultivate the priestly brotherhood with care,” said Pope Benedict.
“They take their example from wise and zealous pastors, as did St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who wrote to his friend and brother bishop, St. Basil: ‘Teach your love for the sheep, your concern and your understanding, your surveillance ... your severity in sweetness, serenity and gentleness in the activity… fighting in defense of the flock’,” concluded the Holy Father.
After praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope greeted those gathered in no less than eight languages before imparting his apostolic blessing.