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Roma Downey's Little Angels View Comments
By John Feister

Downey is best known for her role as Monica on CBS's Touched by an Angel. She knows God's protection in real life, saying, "There are no coincidences."

PEOPLE EVERYWHERE still know her as Monica from TV’s popular Touched by an Angel series. She was the beautiful, sensitive angel with the lilting Irish accent, the star of the show. Over its nine-year
run on CBS, the show touched millions of lives with its simple message: that God has a plan for each of us and watches over us with a loving hand. The TV ratings agreed with what we all know: People long to hear that.

Roma Downey, now a parent of teens, is back with more angels. This time she’s the producer of Little Angels, a fun, animated feature for preschoolers and kindergartners. The DVD series is really aimed at young parents who grew up watching lots of TV and, like it or not, are using the TV to help them occupy their young children’s time. It’s being released as this issue of St. Anthony Messenger goes to press.

Roma invited Friar Jack Wintz and me to her oceanfront home in Malibu, California, where she and her husband, acclaimed producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice), are raising their family, to tell us the story.

As we sit on a backyard patio enjoying a cup of Irish tea, shaded from sun, waves crashing below the cliff at yard’s edge and birds chirping from nearby bushes, Thomas Merton’s No Man Is an Island sitting on a nearby table, Friar Jack and I share a long visit with Roma. She describes the program and its purpose, shows us some samples on her iPad, talks about her own life and some challenges of modern parenting. I couldn’t help but ask her a bit about Della Reese and those Touched by an Angel years, too.

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John Feister is editor-in-chief of this publication. He has master’s degrees in humanities and in theology from Xavier University, Cincinnati.

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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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