Catholic Free Press

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Westborough parish embraces young man living with ALS

Posted By December 26, 2013 | 1:21 pm | Featured Article #4
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By Patricia O’Connell
CFP Correspondent

WESTBOROUGH – Matt Bruce was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis earlier this year.
This progressive neurological condition, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, can strike anyone. But Mr. Bruce was an unlikely candidate. At 26, he was perfectly healthy. He lived in Worcester with two friends and he was working to advance his career.
Since discovering he has a serious illness, Mr. Bruce has started living each day to the fullest. He has taken two trips to Europe. One was with his parents. They traveled to Ireland, where they saw the Blarney Stone, Dingle Bay and “much more.”
“It was incredible,” he said.
Mr. Bruce also has embraced his Catholic faith. A member of St. Luke Parish, he now attends daily Mass.
On Nov. 15, he was also confirmed by Bishop McManus in a private ceremony at his home, attended by family and friends.
He said, in recent months, his “faith has grown tremendously.”
Gloria Josephs was his confirmation sponsor. She is also a youth minister at St. Luke’s where Mr. Bruce was baptized. His family has strong roots at the parish. His parents were married there, as were his grandparents.
Mrs. Josephs has known Mr. Bruce nearly his entire life. He was in preschool the same time as her own daughter. Since then, she has watched him grow up.
She said the confirmation came about after Elizabeth Cotrupi, diocesan director of youth and young adult ministry, told the bishop about a young man battling ALS. Arrangements were then made to have him receive the sacrament of confirmation.
“Matt asked me to be his sponsor,” Mrs. Josephs explained.
One weekday, she said, she was joking with Mr. Bruce. She said, “Matt, have a great day. See you at Mass.”
He took the bait and showed up for daily Mass, something he’s been doing ever since.
Mrs. Josephs said the other Mass-goers are delighted to see him. “So Matt is bringing us great joy and he’s so strong,” she added. “He has that joyful sense of humor.”
“The daily Mass people pray the rosary for him,” she said. “This kid has gotten more love.”
Actually, she noted, the entire parish has been trying to support Matt and his family.
Right before Halloween, parishioners carved about 60 pumpkins, put a candle inside each one and set them out on the front lawn of the church, along with a sign that read, “We love you Matt.” The pumpkins were carved with his name and the message, “Jesus Loves You.” On All Saints Day, Mrs. Josephs brought some of the pumpkins to the Bruce home in Northborough.
Mrs. Josephs said his father told her that Matt’s face “lit up” when he saw the pumpkins.
St. Luke’s also held another fundraiser in which fleece blankets were sold to raise money for Matt’s home health care.
“We’ve been trying to really embrace Matt and surround him,” Mrs. Josephs said.
“Everyone’s just been really showing me love and support through a simple ‘hi,’ hug or smile,” Mr. Bruce said.