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Comfort in Care at Life's End View Comments
By Dorothy Callahan

Hospice volunteers attend a 16-hour training course that outlines their caregiving roles. (Left to right) Education manager Mary Pugliese speaks to aides Anne Craige, Guilene Ham and Gina Lippolis.

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.”

—Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

LIFE OFTEN leads you where you least expect to go and where you never imagine you’ll have the courage to prevail.

Looking back 32 years, Julia Quinlan reflects on the day when she and her husband, Joe, were caught in an emotional turmoil. They were trapped in a parents’ nightmare, unable to wake their daughter Karen Ann from the coma into which a tragic accident had plunged her five years earlier and prevent the certainty of her death. Yet through the shared pain Julia and Joe endured, a promise of peace, solace and comfort for others emerged as they worked to create a memorial for Karen Ann. Although the idea was in its organizational infancy in those days, a tiny,
spare hospital office in Newton, N.J., bore a small sign with a big name: Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice.

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Dorothy Callahan is a freelance writer from Hamburg, New Jersey. She has had numerous articles and short stories published in a variety of magazines.

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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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