Loreto on the Plains Personal Care Home

"Where Prayer Makes the Difference
                                       Giving Hope Where there is No Hope"      
                 

The Miracle of Loreto
 

"...for with God
 All things are Possible."

by Ed and Nan Weber

This is an excerpt from the book about the Miracle of Loreto on the Plains. 

It is a story of trust and belief, but most of all, a story of God's deliverance and provision.
.
"...it just happened that..."

Chapter 1
In the Beginning
'The Vision'

The Vision for Loreto began in 1999 while driving home from a planning meeting for a Respect Life Banquet.   As we were passing a place called Prayertown Emmanuel, I was awakened with a start as a big semi-truck came whistling passed us rocking the car with a blast of wind.

In a flash, my "mind's eye" saw a sign that read Holy Family Village at the entrance of a beautiful driveway.  This long driveway ended in a circle in front of the St. Joseph's Eucharistic Chapel of Divine Mercy. 

Next, I saw House of Abraham Creations, our t-shirt printing business, as a very large factory where the people who were in the drug and alcohol rehab program called Blessed Matt Talbot Rehab Center were given life skills and learned a trade.

I then saw a health clinic for pregnant moms that was a place of council, prayer and physical care. 

Over to the right of the property I saw a mini retreat center, with small meeting rooms, a Library and sleeping rooms.

Last, but not at all least in the village, there it was, nestled in the trees, a two story building called Holy Redeemer Life Care Center, a home for the sick and dying where they would be loved, respected and protected from the practices of euthanasia being used today by removing food and water, along with over medication and removing life support before the person has had a chance to repair. 

The first clue that this must have been from the Lord and worthy of discernment was two fold --  Its impossibility and its name!    "Holy Redeemer  Life Care Center"?  That certainly was not a name either of us would have come up with!  But as time passed we realized that there was a very significant  connection between the name of Holy Redeemer, one of the titles of Jesus, and what He was inviting us to do in linking ours to His through the act of Redemptive Suffering.  (Offering our sufferings to the Father with Jesus on the Cross as intercession for the church, the world, our family, and the intentions of the Holy Father and all intentions that come to our hearts.  We as the Church Suffering play an important role as the intercessors who offer this powerful prayer to the Heavenly Father.   We were brought into a deeper understanding of "Redemptive Suffering" through this and eventually established the Intercessors of Divine Mercy.

Spiritual Care would be provided to prepare the patients for their journey to eternity in a loving, prayerful, peaceful and joyful environment with plenty of  aids like music, water fountains, chapel and more.   In this place Catholic Sisters would work and minister to the sick.  They would be the "Mercy Servants of Christ Crucified" Franciscan based.  They would work with all the lay people who came to work there with the attitude of Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.  Love, love for those who were sick and needed God's love and true compassion shown to them..  

The message became very clear that night, "The battle for the babies and women at the beginning of life, was now very public and many had joined the fight for the right to life of the unborn from many religious and non-religious based groups.  

But the fight for those at the end of life was rarely heard of except in local fights for someone's life.  The trend toward removing food and water and the trend to call this a treatment and therefore a choice was becoming common practice.  This is very much the policy of hospitals today and listed as part of patients rights!

Now, the other reason that this was so unusual was that the Holy Family Ministry Center in Hartley was already established and to believe this would mean to believe that we were to move everything from Hartley to this property at great labor and expense!

The very clearest message was that a problem exists and I need My people to respond, NOW!  We would one day soon  need to pray outside hospices in the same way we were now praying outside of abortion clinics."   The writing was on the wall and this was five years before the tragedy that took place in the killing of Terry Schaivo.
 


Chapter 2
Was this Truly from Jesus?


As I shared all of this, that I had seen in a flash in my head, with Ed, I thought for sure that he would tell me that I needed to go back to sleep.  That everything I said might be true about end of life, but we had our ministry to families and that we had no experience with the medical or political fight for the end of life, that was for the experts. 

No, that was not what happened!                                                                  

Instead, he said, "tell me more of what you think the Lord is saying".

Well, did you ever feel like Nemo out in the middle of the ocean?  That's is exactly how we felt!  We were two people with big hearts and by now growing faith but, no knowledge of this field at all.  What should we do?

When God asks us to do something, it always seems impossible on many levels but, particularly on financial levels. 
I cannot remember a time when it was different.  Being Franciscan, we used to wonder if this was some kind of trick that God was playing to see how far we would go to do His will.  Seriously, though, we know that God does not play tricks but, it does feel that way sometimes doesn't it?

To continue, we arrived home that night all stirred up and excited, thinking about this Catholic Home for the Dying.  A place of love and respect and where kindness and faith were evident and where the Lord"s presence was known to all.  This all seemed like an impossible dream.  One thing we were certain of was that if God wanted it would happen!

"What on earth were we to do next?"  We prayed for guidance before the Blessed Sacrament in our Chapel.  We read scripture and talked to some of our friends.   It became very clear that we were to call the two doctors that were very steeped in the Respect Life Ministry; as physicians they were extremely knowledgeable; and as Roman Catholics they were more like holy priests than Doctors for God was and is truly in them and with them. 

We needed to know, "Was this the Lord or the Devil himself trying to throw us off the path where we were making an impact in ministering to families?"

We prayed and prayed and were finally ready to call our two doctor friends, Dr. Jose Fernandez, a pro-life obstetrician who had written a chapter in a book on abortion and  matters of life and Dr. Bryan Thatcher, founder of the Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy.  After many hours on the phone trying to determine if this was a distraction from the devil or direction from God, we were told that, "Yes, indeed, this seemed to definitely be from the Lord, but that we would need to understand with certainty that this would be our ministry for the rest of our lives."

I said to myself, "Sure, but he doesn't know us!   We will be able to continue our prison outreach, our Rachael's Vineyard work, our Franciscan work and our pro-life diocesan work and our Ministry Center activities."

But, little by little, we learned that he was right.   So, we had to back away slowly from each of these things.   First, came the post abortion healing weekend work, then came the prison work and within a few years they all were set aside to focus our attention on this battle for life at the end of life.


Chapter 3
Confirming the Mission

As we grew deeper in our understanding of the call, we knew that we needed more education, reading, conferences, schooling, training but first we needed more discernment.   We had to be sure.  What could we do?  Where would we go?  Where would we start?

We began to make some plans and thought about our T-Shirt Company, an Imprinted Apparel business called House of Abraham Creations.   We sell our shirts at conferences and so we thought, "what a golden opportunity to speak to the public about end of life issues and testing this mission.   We could ask questions and seek the experience of those who would come to our booth.  We would ask them what had been there experience? 

So, we began to plan.   Besides many other things like further development of fliers and brochures about the Holy Redeemer Life Care Center;  about Intercessors of Divine Mercy; living will and euthanasia articles and whatever information we could get hold of, we needed a drawing of this sixteen bed Life Care Center and an architect to draw it. 

Oh My, I thought where in the world would we get that?  Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained so I said a Memorare (a special prayer) and asked God for help.   I opened the phone book and began to look, I could only find two numbers under architect in the yellow pages.   I thought that was strange, but I picked one and called.  

A womens voice answered the phone.  I explained our need and asked how much it would cost for a drawing of this building if we had a good sketch.   She asked many questions and I explained the call to serve those who were sick and terminally ill and the more I talked the more interested she became.  She was so encouraging and helpful along with a truly authentic interest.  We finally got back to cost and she said $10.00 an hour.  We had $360 in the bank account and I figured that surely 36 hours would be plenty of time.  I was wrong!

She told me that she was a commercial artist, not an architect, and she thought that was really what we were looking for?  Time passed and it was a few days before we were to leave for the Conference.  It was the day before we left for the Human Life International Conference in Minneapolis/St. Paul when she called.  "The drawing is finished."  She said, "where have you been?  I have been trying to get hold of you.  He's been talking to me!" 

"What?", I said

"He's been talking to me.  You know HIM"

I knew now she meant that the Lord was talking to her heart, but about what?

Soon the answer came.  "He told me to do this for 10% of the cost, so it will be $55."

Wow, When God wants something done , He opens the doors and provides.  Wow! I nearly fell off my chair.  We needed that kind of break.   This would be one miracle in years of provision for this Care facility for the sick and terminally ill.

When we drove in to pick up the drawing, we were flabbergasted!   It was beautiful, spectacular, gorgeous and unbelievable.    This was professional at its best.  We had  a beautiful and professional way to present the vision of care.

We came home and prepared to leave for Philadelphia  to sell our shirts and then to go on the Human Life International Conference right afterwords where we would begin the long journey across the United States sharing with others the vision which was unfolding and which would draw us into the upcoming struggle with euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in end of life issues. 


Chapter 4
The Storm Begins


That is when the enemy(devil himself) said, "Uh-oh these folks are serious!  We better put a little heat on!"

The journey leaving Hartley that night began a 3000 mile battle for our lives, our faith and our endurance. 

It all started as we left the driveway.   We were excited and ready to go.  Ed had put in a rebuilt water pump, changed the seats from the old van to the one we were taking.  We needed to stop for gasoline and so we pulled into the gas station to fill up!   We pulled out our bank card, put it in the slot, pushed all the right buttons and in disbelief read the message, "insufficient funds" come up on the machine.

"What?!   We just put in $500 for the trip!  That's crazy!"   But as hard as it was to believe, it was true!

"OK, I'll call Debbie, and ask her to bring our credit card".  He did and we waited for her to arrive.  We were no more than 12 miles away yet it was 45 minutes and she was not here yet.  Where could she be.  Ed called the house and found that she had left immediately.  Just then she pulled up and was visibly shook up.  She told us that she had been stopped by the police for no tail lights and no turn signals.  Ed just apologized profusely as he remembered that he had unplugged all the electrical when he took out the seats.   Oh MY, what a start!

Tired and frustrated by now, we began our journey.  Ed was the first driver and started for Stratford, TX.  Would you believe?  He was so tired that we decided to stop because I, too, was tired.  We were already getting behind but safety first!

Waking up startled by something we began to drive only this time it was me who was driving.  I was to get us to Dodge City and that is just what I did.

Soon, the skyline of Dodge City was visible on the horizon.  I couldn't"t wait to get to the gas station and let Ed take over.  We got there and he put in the gas as I got the drinks.  On the way to the car I noticed a small pool of water under the van.  Ed said it was just the air conditioner so I jumped in the van and off we went. 

Then it started, the very strong smell of gasoline was overwhelming.   It was then that Ed said, "I am going to pull of the highway.  When I do, you jump out and get away from the van!"   That is exactly what I did.  He jumped out and ran to the back of the van but there were no flames, no leak.  Puzzled, he went to the front of the van and asked me to lie on the ground while he revved the engine. 

"What do you see?"

"Nothing", I said, "well, there is a little water dripping from the front."

"Oh no", he said, and jumped in the van.  Quickly, he took the cowling off the engine to look for the leak and there he found a very small leak in the water pump.

"Get in!  We'll try to get to that town up ahead".  So, off we took, cowling off, heat pouring out of the engine in our faces and the road passing fast beneath us.   We made it to the town and there was no where to get it fixed, so he replaced the cowling and felt that if we drove carefully we would be able to get to somewhere where we could get parts.

Again, we took off with Ed driving.  After a few miles up the road, I needed to use the restroom.  There was a rest stop and we pulled off the highway.  Ed laid his head back and snoozed when I went in.  I walked back to the van and there I saw it!  A huge puddle of water under the van.  

"Ed, Ed!  Wake up! you're not going to want to hear what I have to say!  There is a huge puddle of water under the van." 

He jumped up and looked and opened the hood.   Oh boy, everything indicated a leak in the water pump.  There it was and No tools!  Again, we turned to prayer as we sat there with few tools, time running out and daylight going.  It just so happened that,  a man walked up to Ed and said that he had been watching him struggle with this and did he need any tools.  Only knowing how God works would one believe what happened next.   He turned out to be a Snap-On distributer and gave Ed free access to the tools in his truck.   Only God could do that!

After many hours of taking the water pump apart and putting it together, he finally saw the hole in the pump.  He hammered a piece of wood in the small hole, put it back in and off we took only to get stopped once again right before getting back on the highway.  Slash, bang, snap and what was that noise all about.  We stopped, he looked, and there it was -- the bolts holding the fan on were not tightened and the fan was working loose. Ed tightened it enough to get started again and then a Highway Patrolman stopped, to help and gave us the good news that there just happened to be an exit with an Auto parts store and restaurant just three miles down the road.  Ed did his mechanical thing (he is a Mechanical Engineer) and got us going enough to creep up the highway, off at the exit and sure enough there was the prettiest sight ever...food and car parts!

We bought our car parts, Ed put a new belt on and we went to eat.  We were so exhausted that we ordered and the next thing we heard was the waiter saying, "Sir? Madam?  Your dinner is here."

We had fallen asleep right there in the booth at Denny's!   Remembering that we had only just begun this 3000 mile trip and had deadlines to meet, again Ed said, "We are on God's business we will make it. We ate and said, that is it, we are going to park the van and get some rest.  I didn't need much coaching and fell immediately to sleep.  

After a few hours, I heard the engine start up.  Ed was ready to start again.  Oh, by the way, did I mention that we were pulling a fully loaded 5 X 8  U-Haul trailer behind the van?  Well, that made gasoline prices and mileage shrink so money was getting stretched to the max.  We had to get to Philadelphia, sell lots of T-shirts and return to Pittsburgh then head to St. Paul for the Human Life International Conference where we would be setting up our first booth and information center on euthanasia and assisted suicide.  

We pulled out and were refreshed and ready now for the rest of the journey.  It was very dark and we came into a very narrow construction area.  As we maneuvered  through the area, with semi's and cars driving much to fast for the zone all of a sudden we heard this horrible loud bang.  Looking back Ed saw sparks flying everywhere.  In all of that highway mess, there, right beside us there just happened to be a construction pull off and as he was pulling off, I heard it again. 

"When I stop you jump out and get away from the van!  There are sparks everywhere!"

So, obedient that I am, I jump out and move out in the cinders and mud.  Ed, too, jumped out and found not a fire but a blown out tire on the fully loaded trailer with a little jack and me for help!  Here we go again.  But God's hand of deliverance was upon us at every turn.  This was, though, a tall order for deliverance.  Now, anyone that knows us knows that Ed is 67 and I am 65.  At this time we were 59 and 61 and I was no athlete, mechanic or super woman of the farmer-type that could just change a tire on my own in a thunderstorm!  But, instead, I was all Ed had so he began.  The trailer was so heavy that that little jack groaned as it tried to lift it.  Ed, who never asked for my help, even asked if I would lend a hand.  Finally, the tire replaced we got in and took off.  Lots of Rosaries were prayed along this trip but they began to increase as we were beginning to wonder what could happen next?

We would have turned back at the first smell of gasoline coming from the rear of the van if it were not for the strong call of God on our lives to enter the fight for life at its end.  We knew that we were entering a battlefield but never knew just how much war we would encounter, nor what kind of obstacles we would run into.   But, all the time Ed kept reminding me that we had entered this battle for those who could not speak for themselves and that we could expect the spiritual warfare to increase.  "Just remember all the flack and attack that the people suffered in the  fight for life at the beginning of life.  The battle is still being fought against abortion.   Don't forget that God is with us and that we are fighting for His children at His command."


Chapter 5
Smooth Sailing

Things seemed to settle down for a while and the rest of the journey to my daughters home at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio went smoothly.  She and her husband would be traveling to Philadelphia with us to help sell our shirts at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show. .  Feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep, we all got loaded up and began the next part of the trip, singing silly songs and playing car games with our 3 year old grandson.
With Trent driving just before pulling onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike the car overheated and there we were, on the side of the highway with traffic zooming by in 90 degree weather, with a 3 year old, our pregnant daughter and myself all needing a restroom.  Ed came to the rescue after repairing a leaking heater hose with electrical tape and a hose clamp. (Ed is a retired Mechanical Engineer.) 

For the next few hours we had smooth sailing until we hit pouring down rain, slick highways, couldn't find the motel, were hungry, needing to use the rest room, a very cranky grandson, and the engine dying on the exit of the busy highway.  Wow! We sat there and began to laugh.  This was too much the "enemy", the devil himself, was doing overkill but the sense of humor of the Lord is even greater and a car pulled up behind us. 

"Great!", I thought, "People in New Jersey are not as rude as they say.", when up to the window comes this bright and bubbly young lady decked out from head to toe in the whole Gothic style.  For those who don't know what that is, it is the black clothes, chains and pierced faces and bodies.   Our little rescuer had a face like a pin cushion.  Of course, Ed told her our problem, asked if she new how to get to our motel, and would she PLEASE TAKE MY WIFE, DAUGHTER AND OUR GRANDSON to the motel while my son-in-law and he waited for help.

Oh, boy, as I objected Ed insisted that we take her up on her help, so reluctantly we got in her car and took off not knowing our fate.  Like I said, God sure has a sense of humor and funny ways of increasing our faith in his delivering power but this was just a bit much.  We visited as we drove to the motel, she was the most delightful young lady very sincere.  We parted, I repented of my judgments and lack of trust and began to pray for her.  I will never forget that little angel nor will I forget all those children like her that seem lost and hurting, trying to find their way.  God sent that angel of mercy that night and I pray that she has found a better way this 8 years later. 

We scurried quickly into the motel looking for the rest room.  A big sign read "No Public Restrooms".   This was getting desperate and when the clerk would not let us in our room because Ed still had the credit card and all our stuff was in the van, I got a bit upset.  We had reservations for two weeks, we had called several times about our problem and they knew that Michelle was obviously pregnant and that her Mom, me, was at the end of my patience, hungry, tired and irritable. Praise God!   Well, after pleading our case, nothing worked, we sat down and slumped into the very stiff and uncomfortable bench. 

We said a prayer, begged God for Ed to get to the motel. When, Just then a friend came bouncing through the door.  Wow!  What a sight for sore eyes!  We all hugged and rejoiced.  We had helped him two years earlier by letting him sleep in our van because he could not afford a motel room.  Then after exchanging stories, he asked where Ed was and what we were doing in the lobby.  We told our long story.  That's when he just happened to pull out his credit card and happily got us up to our room.

After much gratitude he had to go and we were ready!  Ready for restrooms and Pizza.  Our two priorities!   First things first, we took care of everyone's personal needs and then ordered lots of Pizza, salad and drinks.  Michelle said, "I am so tired and it is so hot (the air conditioner was on "Limp").  I'm going to just lie down for a little while till the food comes."

"Ok", I said, "I'll watch Joseph."  He and I went to look out the window when, without further ado, she pulled back the covers and let out a scream.  I whirled around and there she was shrieking at a rumpled sheet with someone else's hairs all over the pillow.

"I think I am going to throw up!!!!"

Immediately, I called the front desk and said that I was going to report this filth.  I realized that this was not the doing of the person at the front desk, but they needed to know what the maid service was doing and that we needed a new room right away.  We had stayed at this motel in previous years and had very good service so all this was a shock.

God never misses an opportunity to tune up my spirituality and I must admit that I needed a whole work up after that.  By the way Ed and Trent still had not shown up!  The motel people shuffled our things around and soon we were on our way to the new room.  

"Whew," I said and threw myself down on the corner of the bed and to my great surprise and with a loud bang, I was on the floor!!!  The bed was broken and I couldn't stop laughing for quite a while.  I was reminded of the time when St. Theresa of Avila was old, sick and traveling to a new convent to straighten out several problems.  It was  cold, muddy and pouring down rain when the stage coach became embedded in the mud.  Everyone had to get out, she fell and... covered with mud looked up to the heavens and shook her finger saying to God, "If this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you don't have so many!" 

We awaited our husbands, the pizza and rest.

Soon everything showed up!  The pizza was excellent, the husbands were glad to see us, Ed fixed the bed and we, full, satisfied and praising God, crashed until 6:00 AM the next morning.

That wouldn't be the last time we had trouble but we were getting used to it by now.  The enemy tried to get rid of us or cause havoc and God would turn around and deliver us out of the storm every time.


Chapter 6
The "Heat" Gets Turned Up a Notch!
Fr. Sam Dies, Kitanny Tunnel, Fan through radiator, Broken Car, Trust in the Father

On Wednesday of the  Conference  Michelle and Trent received a phone call informing them that their close friend Fr. Sam Tiesi of Franciscan University had passed away.  What a blow this was to them. We had met Fr. Sam on a number of occasions and understood their loss. They found that his funeral was planned for Saturday morning in Loreto, PA and planned on going to attend that. We had planned to drive on to St. Paul, Mn after resting in Steubenville on the weekend.  On Friday night after loading our van and trailer we started the return trip to Steubenville, PA. Trent was driving while the rest of us were sleeping after a grueling schedule at the conference. At about midnight Trent reached over and shook me saying, "The engine has stopped, the engine has stopped!!" We were in a tunnel rolling along at 60 miles an hour with traffic zooming by. I tried to restart the engine as he steered. To no avail. Our momentum plus a few angels carried us through the Kitanney tunnel to a safe stopping place. Trent got out and opened the hood and with a flash light inspected the engine area. He said, "Dad you won't like what I'm seeing!" That certainly got my attention and I crawled out to inspect the damage. The fan had spun off of it's shaft and into the radiator causing irreparable damage and loss of all radiator fluid. The engine had over heated causing it to stop running. That was not good. We certainly weren't going on to Steubenville that night.

We called to locate a motel nearby and also for a tow truck to move our van to a repair garage. We left the trailer alongside the turnpike to be picked up later. The next morning Trent called for a rental car for them to go to Fr. Sam's funeral in Loreto. Ed called for repair parts to be delivered Saturday afternoon so that he could fix the van after the funeral. The decision was made that we would go with Trent and Michelle to Fr. Sam's funeral. The funeral started at 10:00 A. M. and we had a three hour drive to make in two and a half hours. Trent drove like Mario Andretti and we arrived at the church while Fr Mike Scanlan was giving the eulogy.  It just so happened that he was holding a small book in his hand and talking about redemptive suffering explaining how Fr. Sam was such an example for others and that this book was written by Fr. Sam and included stories on a number of saints  who were examples of redemptive suffering.

The Lord had impressed on us the need to spread the news of redemptive suffering as part of the education on End of Life Issues. We were convinced that this side trip to Fr. Sam's funeral was a blessing and part of God's plan for our journey.  He wanted us to have Fr. Sam's book as one of our resources on redemptive suffering. After the funeral we drove back to the town where our van was waiting. Trent and I worked on it for two hours installing a new radiator and fan and at 9:00 p. m. we started the engine and after about five minutes of running there was a loud noise and we stopped the engine to investigate and found that the fan shaft had spun out of the water pump and the fan ground into the radiator again damaging it beyond repair again.  How discouraging that was. Another blow on our journey to St. Paul.

We called a friend in Steubenville who called several places and found the fan and radiator and water pump which we needed.  He picked them up and started to where we were located about 90 miles away. While waiting for him I started removing parts from the engine. While doing that I found that the timing belt housing had a crack from the jarring of the fans into the radiator.  When our friend arrived we put the parts which he had purchased into the van and loaded everybody up and returned to the turnpike to pick up the trailer which we had dropped by the tunnel and at about 3:00 a.m. drove in heavy fog back to Steubenville where we crashed at Trent and Michelle's apartment.  The next day was father's day. How discouraged we were! Our van was out of commission  and we had to leave on Tuesday for St. Paul. We were out of money and did not know what to do. We went to Mass and gave the day to God and tried to rest and enjoy the time together. While Ed took a nap in the afternoon Trent and Michelle went out to run an errand. When they returned Trent called us and handed us a bundle of money. He said that our daughter Eileen and her husband, Harvey had wired the money for us to use to fix the van. Wow! Such Love in our family!! I cried tears of joy and relief. For years Nan and I have been the givers in so many ways and now that love was being shown back to us.

On Monday Trent and Ed  made calls and located all of the parts for the van engine and drove to pick them up in the Pittsburgh area. Then they drove back on the Turnpike to the van and three hours later had it reassembled. Upon starting  the engine it was very evident that the overheating had damaged the valves as it was missing out. But it would start and run so we started back to Steubenville. On Saturday we had found that Nan had left her purse in Loreto so we parked the van at the exit for the highway to Loreto and Trent and I drove the 120 mile trip to retrieve her purse. On the return trip we picked up the van and nursed it back to Steubenville.  It was evident that we would not be driving the van to St. Paul so We made the decision to make some repairs to Trent's Ford Blazer and hook the trailer onto it for the sixteen hour trip to St. Paul. Nan struggled with that because the Blazer was not in the best of condition. But after wrestling with that she put it all in the Lord's hands because it was all we had to get to St. Paul. So on Wednesday morning early we left for St. Paul  by the grace of God.



Chapter 7

St. Paul, Here We Come!

Well, we finally arrived in St. Paul very late and were greeted by our Bishop, who was being honored there for his pro-life work, and he took this hungry and weary bunch to dinner. 

At this first conference, we heard story after story, the same story repeated over and over again.  "Grandma died after 5 days in hospice, we had no idea she was that sick, in fact we were laughing and talking the night before.  When they called us in the morning we were shocked".  

"We were told not to give Dad any food or water we were just prolonging his death." 

They told us that we were being cruel by prolonging Mom's agony, removing the feeding tube and IV's would let her die naturally."  Over and over!  Nurses would say, "I had to quit working for the home, I couldn't stand to see what they were doing and I wasn't going to be a part of that."

We met a number of other people who were involved in various aspects of prolife work and they encouraged us to continue our journey and quest.  After the conference we returned to Steubenville where Ed removed the head which had the damaged valves and took it to a repair shop which specialized in that work and the owner went out of his way to install two new valves and sent us on our way for a fraction of the cost that would normally have been. After reassembling the van we finally headed for home.

 We had no money and a vision for a Life Care Center which was beyond our imagination.   First of all, we wanted to gather information to gain experience from the public about the need for this vision which God was giving us. With the personal testimonies fresh on our minds on our way home from the conference in St. Paul, Mn we stopped in Oklahoma City where some friends owned and operated 10 nursing homes/hospices. Our desire was to ask them about their homes and what they were experiencing in caring for the dying.  We spent several hours with them which culminated with their question to us, "What is your personal experience with working in hospice care?" To which we answered that we had no personal experience.  They suggested that we go home and start volunteering in the local hospice to see for ourselves what was actually happening.

                                                                                    
Chapter 8
Help Comes from India

(Summer of 2001) After returning home to Hartley, TX we checked with BSA Hospice in Amarillo to see what they had to offer.  It just so happened that they were beginning a hospice training program that Monday and we could sign up for their training right there on the phone and be in class Monday (oh, of course this was Friday!) So, of course, we did!

That day we happened to visit  Prayertown Emmanuel for Mass and to say good by to our friend, Fr. Gus.  We were briefly introduced to their new priest who was from India.   I, Nan, thought,  "oh my, he 's very formal I don't think we will relate to him very easily.  But he just happened to come to the Ministry Center a few days later with one of the sisters who brought her parents to visit our center.   While we toured and visited, the Indian priest, Fr. Jose Palathara, visited with Ed.   As he and Ed shared, I was visiting with sister's parents.  Soon Ed and Fr. reentered the group and Fr. Jose said, Would you believe that Ed and I are both engineers. He is a mechanical and I an a civil engineer."

My head rushed with thoughts as he continued,  "I am also an architect (bingo!) and had been a hospital administrator (double bingo)  by now my head was spinning.  "When do I pop the question???  I knew he had been sent for us with all my heart.

When we shared a our vision with him he related that he was an Architect, Civil Engineer and a Hospital Administrator and had built several hundred buildings. He was very interested in what we were doing. 

We told him about the plan to become Hospice Volunteers and we invited him to join us to which he responded enthusiastically yes.  We picked him up and took him with us for the training. We discussed the building for Holy Redeemer Life Care Center which the Architect had drawn for us.  Fr. Jose said that we would need some drawing instruments and a drafting table for him to use. The drafting arm at the blue print store was $200 plus which we didn't have so we decided to wait until I checked with the local high school for drafting materials which we could borrow. The next day I called the school and they offered for me to come and see what drafting tools they had and that I was welcome to what ever we needed as they had discontinued their drafting program. Praise God! Just for the asking.  

It was a year later when Jim and Barb, who had caught on fire with the vision and became advisers, moved to Prayertown to be closer to us, and work with us almost every weekend after work.  We did newsletters and they  proofread; we had ministry projects, like Divine Mercy Celebrations, they helped prepare; we planned, studied, discussed and rediscussed every aspect of this vision.  As we gained experience from this and the hospice volunteering we began to draft the plans for Holy Redeemer Life Care Center.  With the help of Father Jose and Jim and Barb we began to build a model of the HRLCC.  

In the Spring of 2001 six of us (Ed, Nan, Barb, Jim, Susan, Debbie) went to an NCOA (National Conference on Aging) and ASA (American Society on Aging conference in Denver, CO. We spent 5 full days as volunteers to help with the conference for free admittance and also attending as many of the carefully chosen sessions as we could possibly squeeze in. We came back with bags of handouts and other information relevant to this calling. From this Symposium came the information and the core of the Angels of Mercy Volunteer Caregivers Program.


Chapter 9

On the Road Again

During 2002 we traveled extensively to attend conferences and visit with people across the country. Starting in St. Louis  where we shared with Fr. Mitch Pacwa this vision. His advice was to start with the planning and construction  and when this was underway try to share with a wider audience like Jonnette Benkovic of EWTN. From there we went to Houston for a Charismatic conference. Later to Amarillo, TX Prolife Banquet, Family Conference in Wichita, KS, Marian Conference in Fargo, ND and in Nov. A Divine Mercy Conference in San Diego, CA


In April, 2003 we traveled to a Conference on Divine Mercy in Tampa, Florida. This was hosted by the Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy. After the Conference we attended a retreat which was on the Divine Mercy and attended by Fr. Seraphim Michalenko and Fr. Kaz as well as Dr. Bryan Thatcher. Dr. Thatcher is one of our advisers and as we shared with him after the retreat, he said that we needed to return to Amarillo and get more training and start with a smaller model for care as HRLCC was 22000 Sq. Ft. 

Immediately after returning to Hartley, Nan called Amarillo College and it just so happened that they were hosting a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) training course. We went to sign up for it and needed extra funds for the course. A friend, Jim, who owns a funeral home offered to pay for half of the tuition after we shared our story with him.  Thats not the last time that he would help in the building and preparation of this ministry by helping with the Education of the team.

We  finished our CNA training in June. During our training which was on weekends in Amarillo we enjoyed the hospitality of two of our Franciscan brothers and sisters who opened their home to us and allowed us to come and go as we needed.  A home away from home.

As we studied, we also looked at many houses hoping to find one which would fit what the Lord was putting in our hearts.   We found what we thought was the "perfect" place on the highest hill in Amarillo (and that is not high!!!)  That's when Nan felt that we were to call the home "Loreto on the Hill".   The Lord did not confirm this home and even though we were close in speaking to the owner and he loved our mission, he just couldn't give the house to us for the price we asked.  That was the end of that.  It was not the end of hope, however.   We would have been willing to do whatever was asked of us, even to move the Ministry Center to Amarillo.  God in His mercy did not ask that of us, only were we willing to do it if He required it! 

In August I sensed that we were to stop looking in Amarillo for a house and return to Hartley where we were to build a home right there on the Holy Family Ministry Center property, which would place the home in the middle of our ministry and have access to all the gardens, library, Atrium and Shrine.

What would we name this home?  I thought of a thousand names and none clicked.   Then in a flash of a moment,  "Loreto on the Plains" was right there.  "Is this me, Lord?", I prayed.  This name felt so right, perfect and fitting.   Loreto On the Plains, it was!   After naming it Loreto on the Plains, we looked up the Holy House of Loreto on the internet. This was the home of the Holy Family.  The connection seemed obvious, but as we read, it spoke more and more of there being cures and healings throughout  the centuries.  "Wow!"  we thought,  "a home of healing, miracles and God's mercy and grace!"

We felt real close to Noah by this time!

"Build a Care Home!"

" Build it now!"
 
"I will send everything you need!"

"How many cubits, Lord?"

"Wait a minute!  What's a cubit anyway?"

Well, we decided on a 4000 Sq. Ft. layout with four patient/resident rooms. State regulations allow for up to four unrelated residents in a personal Care home without being regulated.   That was the beginning of the journey to Loreto from Holy Redeemer Life Care Center.  One day that home for the sick and terminally ill will be built.  But for now, we are building Loreto, a "smaller but not less than" care home for all those that come and seek refuge in the hour of their greatest need.


Chapter 10
We Build While We Wait
In the Spring of 2004, moved by the Holy Spirit we decided to add the Atrium room onto Holy Family Ministry Center. while we waited for the funding.  As we proceeded with this construction we could clearly see why this was wisdom at work. This was desperately needed, for now, when Loreto PCH is completed we will have much more to offer the families of the residents who come to visit.

The Atrium room ties the Center together as a central hub with the Chapel on one side, the library on the  other and in the middle was the old reception room.  This has become a small conference Center, a dinning room, a "theater" for drama and children's plays and the site for the Angels of Mercy Training Course. 

While we were working on the Atrium one afternoon, a friend, stopped by to tell us that he was donating the septic system for Loreto when it came time.  We were overwhelmed by his generosity and love.  But, you see, it is not about us but about God's moving of hearts and awakening of people to real love and care for those who are suffering.  There is a basic goodness and understanding of right and wrong called the conscious inside each one of us.  Unless this has been malformed or in rare cases non-existent, most of us have that gut feeling that tells us the difference.  

We cried together as he shared about his Mom who had just passed away, he left and we returned to working on the Atrium with awe and wonder at the mighty hand of God and how he provides and works. 
 

Chapter 11
The Ground is Broken


Mother John Marie, founder of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and Ed Weber. co founder of the Holy Family Ministry Center and Loreto on the Plains break ground for the Loreto on the Plains Personal Care Home.  For the first 10 years of our life in the Texas Panhandle we lived in a place called Prayertown Emmanuel, founded by Mother John Marie and here 25 years later we come together once again to build a Center for life and love of the sick and terminally ill.  Many came that day to bless and celebrate with us this monumental day.

Chapter 12
The Foundation is Laid


In May of 2004 we had sufficient funds to start the foundation for Loreto On the Plains PCH and proceeded to plan for tools materials and people with equipment for preparing the soil. In that process a friend from the parish who does earth work and prepares foundations asked me what we were planning to do for foundation preparation. When I told him that we were still trying to figure that out he said that he would do it in between other jobs that he was doing. He brought 8 pieces of equipment and proceeded to prepare a first class foundation base - at no charge.
The trench for the stem wall around the foundation was dug by a long time friend who had just purchased a new piece of equipment with that capability. - at no charge. Friends from the Hispanic community helped with  preparing the trench and placing the rebar.






A Few of the Upcoming Chapters




Knights in Shining Armor
Fellow
Knight of Columbus "just happens to own" a foundation preparation company and tells Ed, "You can't land ready with a tractor, don't worry we'll do it for you."



From Plumber
to Pulpit
Just happens to be a Catholic young man and donates the men and labor for the underground plumbing


Stout-hearted Men
Just happened to meet a man in store that was trying disparately to get hold of for digging trusses, moves USB board, and helps build the first stage.



                             

When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best
Builders
are moved by the Lord to donate all their time and Loreto is completely framed in 11 days.






business men/parishioners and 
gather together the funds to get the building up and another donates the metal roof.





Pastor of at St. Anthony's, Chaplain from Prayertown and for HFMC and Pastor of local Christian Fellowship
bless the slab before construction begins




Stranger
walks up and says here (Check for $500) this is for Loreto, we need this ministry.

Donations come from surprise resources to a concert and there handed $1000 check for Loreto.





Builders come
- Trey Franz and Jim Arnie 11 days later Loreto is up






Life Challenge
team shows up at just the right time







Men from ACTS and Knights of Columbus
come to help when it looked like no one would show up.




More to Come!


The TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice has approved this project for a work project for the men.  They come with their overseer and have made quite a skilled contribution to the work.  We are grateful for their help when it just happened that the others got busy with farming.

               



WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN
This story is  only a skeleton version of the unfolding of the miracle of Loreto on the Plains Personal Care Home. 
It just skims the surface of the contributions of labor and support that Loreto has received.  This ministry to the sick and terminally ill has brought people from all walks of life, economic status, religions and ethnic backgrounds together to bless and be blessed by the Lord while providing this safe place for those who are weak and suffering and cannot speak for themselves.  

Everyone from businessmen of the area to the little families that come to the Center; from elders and leaders of the local churches to the members of our own parish.  God is moving hearts and hearts are being blessed.

People will experience the love which has gone into every inch of this home and God's love wrapping them in his mercy.

We will be adding to the story and correcting and updating as we go.  If you would like to read more, please email us (see Contact Us) with your opinions, questions and requests.  Don't forget to visit the Respect Life Websites page. (go to Respect Life Websites)
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