Catholic blogger grateful for prayers following accident

Thomas Peters of Catholic Vote at Georgetown University May 17 2012 Credit Michelle Bauman CNA CNA 8 7 13 Thomas Peters of Catholic Vote in May 2012. | Michelle Bauman/CNA.

A young Catholic blogger known for his defense of the faith in the public square is thankful for prayers and support as he begins the long process of recovery following a severe accident.

"Rehabilitation will not be easy and there are no answers for how much Thomas will be able to rehabilitate," said Natalie Peters in a statement collaborated with Thomas, her husband.

However, she told CNA that she and Thomas "have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers" and encouragement coming from family, friends and supporters in the weeks since his accident.

A leader in the Catholic community, Thomas Peters starting the award-winning blog "The American Papist" in 2006 before joining the group Catholic Vote in 2010. The 27-year-old became one of a few American bloggers invited to the Vatican's first blogger meeting in Rome. Peters also works as communications director and blog manager for the National Organization for Marriage.

On July 16, Peters was injured in an accident while swimming in Maryland, fracturing his fifth cervical vertebra, which is located in the lower neck. He is in "critical but stable condition," according to the recovery website set up by family and friends.

Because of the location of the damage, the injury has had an impact on Peters' sensation, strength and mobility, particularly in his fingers. While he has regained the use of his wrists, there "is no firm prognosis for his long term mobility," the website said.

The accident also left water in Peters' lungs, leaving them weak. As a result, he has been on a ventilator since the accident, although he is now sitting and breathing on his own for hours at a time in order to strengthen his diaphragm and chest muscles.

In addition, Peters has undergone a tracheotomy and had a head brace installed for stability. Surgery will be required to fix the fracture, though the doctors will not be able to operate until an infection that formed at his tracheotomy site heals.

Despite the trials and challenges posed by the injury, Natalie explained that they "are committed to staying hopeful."

According to the recovery blog, Thomas "is calmer, happier, better when Natalie is around." Natalie helps her husband in completing daily tasks, such as shaving and washing his hair, while he gradually recovers his ability to do certain tasks on his own, such as holding tubing and other objects.

In addition, the couple strives to stay in high spirits between physical therapy and appointments. Natalie reads and responds to emails and letters, Thomas tells jokes, and the pair watches some of their favorite television shows and movies.

They have also been joined in prayer by family and friends, including several priests. Thomas has received the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, and is able to pray and receive the other sacraments frequently while in the hospital.

Supporters have set up a spiritual bouquet website to collect prayers for Peter, along with a Facebook prayer page and a novena to Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, a 19th century Italian laywoman who spent much of her life bedridden with infirmities.

The Peters family has expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support – especially prayers – that they have received in the weeks following the accident.

"We feel the power and grace of these prayers every day," Natalie said.

Friends have also organized an Aug.14 benefit concert by musician Luke Spehar at the Catholic Information Center in downtown Washington, D.C., to help raise funds for Peters' medical bills and other needs.

"We're so thankful to Luke Spehar for performing, which will allow us the opportunity to gather as a community in support of the Peters family, who continue to be an inspiration to so many of us in the Washington area and around the country," said Mitch Boersma, Chief Operating Officer of the Catholic Information Center. 

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Natalie encouraged those who wish to follow her husband's recovery to do so through the blog. She also called on supporters to "get involved in the causes that we care about," noting that Thomas "cares about getting the word out" on these critical social issues.

"Most importantly," she added, "please continue to pray for us!"

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