Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Jul
  • 25

Many praying for a miracle

Posted By July 25, 2013 | 12:51 pm | Lead Story #1
Thomas Beirne
Thomas Beirne

By Patricia O’Connell
CFP Correspondent

LANCASTER – Thomas Beirne is 8 years old and has Leigh’s disease, a rare genetic disorder with a poor prognosis.
His 6-year-old sister, Sheila Catherine, lost her battle with the same condition earlier this year.
Leigh’s disease affects the central nervous system. It usually strikes infants and toddlers, but can also appear during the teenage years and in adulthood. Symptoms may include diminished appetite, vomiting and seizures. Later it may progress to muscle weakness and respiratory problems.
People around the Diocese are praying for a miracle – for the full recovery of Thomas. They are asking for the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a Dominican tertiary from Italy who died in 1925. He was beatified in 1990 by Pope John Paul II.
Recently, a group of students at Trivium School also decided to give Thomas a miracle of their own. They organized a fundraiser for the Beirne family by staging a local production of “The Miracle Worker,” the story of Helen Keller.”
Ms. Keller, born deaf and blind, learned to communicate and went on to live a full, productive life.
“Back when Sheila passed away, a group of students got together and decided they wanted to do something for the
family,” explained Peg Murphy of Lancaster, whose two sons attend Trivium.
“It was a completely student-inspired initiative,” she added.
The play was directed by Marie Kottenstette, now a senior at the private Catholic school.
Mrs. Murphy’s son, Peter, was part of the production. Trivium provided the venue, but it was the students who designed the set, directed the play and provided the costumes, Mrs. Murphy said, noting that the end result was “a top-notch performance of the play.”
The Beirne family has incurred extra medical expenses, and the free-will offering from people who attended was donated to help defray these costs, according to Mrs. Murphy.
The performance was very well attended, and there was standing room only, she said.
Sheila Beirne expressed her gratitude for the students. She said it has been difficult for her learning to accept offers of the help, but she now realizes there is benefit in helping one another, for all involved.
She is especially grateful to several of the teenage girls involved in the production. “These girls taught me more than I’ll ever know,” she stated.
Mrs. Beirne said the performance was “outstanding.”
“They’re the stars here,” she said of the students. “The effort that went into this was amazing. It wasn’t just a nice effort. It was a world-class performance.”
Although the seven surviving Beirne children, who range in age from 9-months to 10-years, are too young to attend Trivium, Mrs. Beirne said she has gotten to know a lot of the other families through the home-schooling community.
“A lot of our friends have students at Trivium,” she explained.
“It’s amazing how much people care and how great people have been,” she added. “People who wouldn’t normally have gone to a high school play have come to support Thomas.”
Mrs. Beirne said she is also touched by the outpouring of prayers and by the number of people praying a novena prayer to Blessed Pier Giorgio.
Blessed Pier was a 24-year-old Italian man who died in 1925 from a sudden and severe case of polio. He suffered greatly during the five days we was sick.
He loved the outdoors, especially skiing and mountain climbing, and spending time with his friends. However, he was also a devout Catholic and a Dominican tertiary. When his body was exhumed in 1981, it was found to be incorrupt. He was beautified in 1990 by Pope John Paul II.
A Dominican nun in Nashville, Sister Mary Davyd, initially suggested praying to Pier Giorgio, said Mrs. Beirne. A man who has three children attending Trivium visited her convent, and spoke to Sister Mary Davyd about the Bierne family.
Sister Mary Davyd then gave the novena prayer to this man’s wife, who has forwarded it the local home-schooling families. Then, Mary Ellen Kottenstette, the mother of Marie, who directed the play, had prayer cards made up with Thomas’ picture. Others have made photocopies of these cards and, have, in turn, distributed them.
“This is Our Lord and he’s working through these people,” said Mrs. Beirne.

“O merciful God, who through the perils of the world deigned to preserve by your grace your servant Pier Giorgio Frassati pure of heart and ardent of charity, listen we ask you, to our prayers and, if it is in your designs that he be glorified by the Church, show us your will, granting us the graces we ask of you, particularly, a complete and miraculous healing for Thomas Beirne through his intercession, by the merits of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”