“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” (Luke 1:46)
We may recognize this verse as the first line of Mary’s Magnificat, as she praises God for his request for her to be the mother of his Son, Jesus. According to the Gospel of Luke, she offers this prayer right after entering the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth to serve Elizabeth during her pregnancy with John the Baptist. Through the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth recognizes Mary as “the mother of my Lord,” and says to her, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)
I would like to praise God for a particular blessing that he has bestowed on our daughter, Emily, who was born with Down syndrome. After graduating from St. Paul VI Catholic High School in the Arlington, Virginia Diocese, one of the first Catholic high schools in the nation to offer special education, she subsequently went to work for a bakery and catering business involved in various food preparation tasks, including dog biscuits. The bakery employed as many as thirty-five individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, some of whom included friends from her high school.
Emily worked for the bakery for twelve years until a number of circumstances, including COVID, caused the bakery to close its doors. For more than two years we have been searching for work opportunities for Emily, but none appeared to work for her. We prayed continuously that God would find something for her.
This past summer her sisters came up with the idea for her to offer “Coffee and Community” after daily mass at our parish church, St. Mark. We got approval from our pastor, her sisters developed signage and name tags, and we were able to contract with a job coach to assist in making the coffee and set up. In October she began to offer Coffee and Community every Tuesday and Thursday after daily mass. Emily helps my wife bake cookies to go with the coffee. The church staff is very supportive, and the people of our parish are getting the opportunity to interact with someone with a disability.
Emily was born with an inclination to love. When she meets someone, her first reaction is to give them a hug. During this season when we celebrate God becoming one of us, we praise God and give him thanks for his care and provision for Emily. She is now doing what she loves to do most – greeting people with her beautiful smile and giving them a hug.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.