Seeking Life: Modern miracles among us
Frequently we read heartwarming stories about the generosity of individuals, institutions, communities and corporations toward causes where help is needed.
After a gunman assassinated New York policemen Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32, as they sat in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street on Dec. 20, the Yankee Silver Shield Foundation, established in 1982 by the late George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, announced that it would pay for the education of Ramos' sons, one 13 and the other in college. Liu, recently married, had no children. The foundation has helped educate the children of a thousand policemen, firefighters and Port Authority employees killed in the line of duty.
For me, a favorite charity is Doctors Without Borders, serving in the worst medical crises worldwide. Currently, they are in West African countries risking their lives caring for Ebola victims. I also like the work of the American Friends Service Committee and Catholic Relief Services.
For most of us, giving is a season, and what we contribute comes from our abundance. However, there are special persons like Margaret Domashinski, of West Suffield, Massachusetts, who give of the very substance of their lives. She has been in the news recently because she donated one of her kidneys to Father Michael Whyte, since 2007 pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish in West Simsbury, Connecticut.
Father Whyte has Type 1 diabetes that over the years destroyed his kidneys. A year and a half ago, his doctors told him he could expect to live six months if he did nothing and only five to seven years on dialysis. A transplant would give him 20 to 25 years of life.
The priest announced his predicament at a Sunday Mass and parishioners formed a committee to help him find a kidney. Domashinski, a parishioner, later told a local TV news reporter in an interview: "I knew I was a match. I know that's kind of spooky, but I did. I asked him, 'What is your blood type?' When he said 'O positive,' I told my husband, 'I am a match for him.'"
A mother in her mid-50s with three daughters, ages 17, 13 and 10, she consulted them and her husband. With their full support, she offered her pastor a kidney after a daily Mass. After a year and a half with many tests confirming a near-perfect match, the surgery was performed last fall. Six weeks later, Father Whyte was back to work, feeling healthier and stronger.
"People are waiting for another Lazarus to be raised from the dead or another 5,000 to be fed. ... God gives us miracles," Father Whyte said. "This is one of them."
In the spring of 2014, Domashinski went to Africa to do mission work in Uganda. Next summer, she and her daughters will go there to help build a new science center. Crediting her upbringing, she told a reporter that her parents told her: "You are not here just to be a piece of furniture."