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Making the Impossible Possible
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The Gundrum family realizes the infinite value of human life through their son Dominic

Dominic and Fr. Frank
Dominic Gundrum

Fr. Frank Formolo, LC, superior of the Legionary community in Edgerton, Wisconsin, and chaplain at Oaklawn Academy, recently attended a dinner April 18, 2013, in honor of his cousin’s wife, Mary Gundrum.  Mary was recognized as a mother who has set a distinctly pro-life example.  Her son Dominic suffered from a rare disorder while in the womb in which a section of his brain was exposed and growing abnormally.  The baby was not expected to live, but Mary and her family persevered through his birth, and they have been greatly blessed ever since.  Click here and here for news articles about this special child.  Below Fr. Frank discusses his experience being related to this amazing family.  

Blessed John Paul II had commented that personal testimony is the best way to spread the gospel.  What better way for God to teach us the value of life than to give us a child who needs extra care and a family willing to give that care!

I feel proud in a good way and happy too being related to such a family.  I am particularly happy for my cousin Dominic’s dad and his wife, who have given so much care to Dominic.  They are truly living out their Catholic faith and showing the world what it means to be pro-life simply by their example.  It is great to see their witness of faith and trust in God too. 

Time with the Family

The prolife dinner was the first time I have seen Dominic since August, 2012, because he has been undergoing the surgeries and recovering from them.  Earlier in the summer, I was given the grace  to spend a little time with Dominic’s family. 

I met Dominic for the first time at my niece’s funeral -- she was born on Aug. 3, 2012, with an extra chromosome 13, known as trisome 13.  She died on Aug 15, 2012.  At that time Dominic’s parents were still discerning when and where to do his surgeries.  They were about to leave for Boston to speak to one of the surgeons.  A couple of months prior to the funeral, I had spent time with his family at a family reunion.  Dominic and his mother were unable to attend, because Dominic was a newborn and due to his condition, he had to be
Prolife Dinner
Mary Gundrum speaks at prolife dinner on April 18, 2013.
careful not to get any colds or infections.  Nevertheless I was able to spend time with his dad and his brothers and sisters.  I learned a great deal during the visit.

The Value of Human Life

How much are people willing to spend on a child these days? I believe one of the news stories about Dominic called him the “million dollar baby.”

We live in an age when people spend lots of money on different things, especially entertainment.  We are willing to spend millions of dollars on sports stadiums, theatres, hotels, and so on.  Often times I hear of people looking for bargains in education, or of some preferring not to have a child because of the risks, or of others dreading the financial burden.

But Dominic’s story, and the story of his entire family frankly, tells us the true value of life, which is infinite.

Here is a child born with severe disabilities – encephalocele -- requiring lots of care, and resources and the parents haven’t given up on him.  Instead they have gone to great lengths to care for him, and they haven’t allowed the costs or the difficulties to become obstacles.  They haven’t put a price on Dominic’s life.  He is a child, one of God’s children, and they have been called to care for him. 

I think God works through his little ones in this way because Christ has said “unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt. 18:3) To see someone like Dominic is to see the Kingdom of God.  He is a constant reminder of the simplicity we need to have if we wish to get to Heaven.  He has been baptized and has become an heir of the Kingdom of Heaven.  I could see it in his smile when I saw him at the dinner.  He seemed happy and joyful.  He probably doesn’t even realize he has a deformity.  He just enjoys God’s presence and love, and the love he receives from his parents and family. 

Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, in a prolife homily in 2005 spoke about the care Jesus expects us to give in life, saying,

“Jesus
Mary and Dominic
Mary and Dominic
came to bring life and to bring the abundant life, and he sends us out, carrying that life, but he tells us: ‘Care for it!’ Because there are people who have what we are hearing about today, who aren´t involved in the Gospel:  the culture of death.  That is, life interests them insofar as it is useful, insofar as it has some kind of utility and if not, it doesn´t interest them.  And throughout the world, this weed has been planted, of the culture of death.”

The (then) cardinal  goes on to say,

“How beautiful is caring for life, allowing life to grow, to give life like Jesus, and to give it abundantly, not to permit that even one of these smallest ones be lost.  That is what Jesus asked of the Father: ‘that none of those whom You have given me be lost, that all of the life that You gave me to care for, might be cared for, that it might not be lost.’  And we care for life, because He cares for our life from the womb.  We have it in the motto for this year: ‘From the womb you were our protector.’ He cares for us and he teaches us that.”

In caring for children, Christ had told his disciples, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt. 19:14)  Christ healed and taught the children whom the mothers brought him. 

In caring for him, Dominic’s parents are fulfilling Christ’s command.  They are giving him a chance to come to Christ. 

Dominic’s Story Continues

I remember his mother Mary saying that while she carried Dominic in her womb she could only think that he was her child.

In her testimony at the prolife dinner, Mary mentioned that she had originally been filled with fear when she heard Dominic’s prognosis.  She also felt as if the doctors weren’t giving her and her husband much support regarding what could be done for Dominic, especially when the prognosis changed from time to time and they didn’t know what to expect.  She and her husband put their faith in God and relied on the prayers of many people.  And Dominic was born with his deformities, but is alive and well. 

It seems that Dominic’s prognosis is a good one.  He will have surgery on his cleft pallet in July.  I believe at some point he will have surgery on the bridge of his nose.  His parents aren’t sure about his eye sight, but hopefully it will improve with time. 

The care and the surgeries will help Dominic have a better life.  He will be more capable of knowing, loving, and imitating Christ, although his knowledge, love, and imitation may be only as a little child.  Nevertheless he has been given the opportunity to come to Christ.   

Was this a miracle?

In a more broad sense, I believe we can speak of a miracle.  If we were to ask the doctors and the surgeons, they would be able to give scientific explanations for what happened, and “miracles” don’t really have scientific explanations.  But no one can explain how Dominic is well. My cousin had been praying for such a miracle once he heard Dominic would be born with encephalocele.  He hoped that by some miracle Dominic would be born normal.  That didn’t happen. 

The surgeries that Dominic has undergone are risky and the outcome isn’t necessarily one hundred percent.  Nevertheless, I believe God has guided the surgeons in doing their work.  And I believe He will continue to guide them through his future surgeries.  He has also helped Dominic to heal and recover from all of the medical interventions.  I know for awhile his mother Mary could not even hold him or feed him.  That was truly difficult for her.  Now that he has recovered he looks quite good.  I am sure that God’s hand was present in his recovery. 

God has also helped Dominic’s parents Mark and Mary to find solutions to the difficulties that have arisen.  When they went to Boston for the surgeries, they brought the whole family.  And everyone stayed for about a month.  The question arises how will they find a place to stay?  How will they afford it?  God provided.  A family who heard of their plight allowed them to use their home.  I believe the other family stayed with some relatives so the home would be available to Mark and his family.  It is Mark’s and Mary’s faith and trust in God that brings about such miracles. 

Even the question of paying for the surgeries arises.  Again God provided.  I don’t know the details, but I know that God is helping them find solutions to the financial difficulties arising from Dominic’s care.  And God will continue to provide for them as they continue to care for Dominic in the future.  Instead of giving up on Dominic, Mark and Mary have trusted in God and He has made all things possible.  Christ speaking of our salvation had said, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matt. 19:26)  Without trusting in God caring for Dominic would be impossible, but with God it has become possible.  

You can find more details, updates, and pictures about Dominic on www.dominicpio.com.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2013-04-26


 
 


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