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.
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
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
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.
|Mary Gundrum speaks at prolife dinner on April 18, 2013.|
The Value of
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
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
But Dominic’s story, and the story
of his entire family frankly, tells us the true value
of life, which is infinite.
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,
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
|Mary and Dominic|
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.
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.
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.