Eunice Kennedy Shriver – An American Saint

“In the 1950’s, the mentally retarded were among the most scorned, isolated and neglected groups in American Society. Mental retardation was viewed as a hopeless, shameful disease, and those afflicted with it were shunted from sight as soon as possible.”1 

What began as a summer camp at her Maryland farm in 1968, developed into the first Special Olympics which attracted 1,000 athletes from 26 states and Canada for competition. 

The idea was born when a mother telephoned Eunice Kennedy Shriver and complained that she could not find a summer camp for her child. Mrs. Shriver recalled the telephone conversation this way in an interview with NPR: “I said: You don’t have to talk about it anymore. You come here a month from today. I’ll start my own camp. No charge to go into the camp, but you have to come and pick your kid up.”

“She set out to change the world and to change us” her family said, when she died, “and she did that and more.”

At the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghi,China, a crowd of 80,000 cheered and welcomed 7,000 athletes, a country with a history of severe discrimination against anyone born with disablities.

The program has now grown to three million athletes in 180 countries.

Eunice Kenndy Shriver (puni-Euni, her family nick name)died on August 11, 2009 at age 88.

Eunice, the middle child in a family of nine, grew up with a sister Rosemary, who was mildly retarted. She detested the practice of keeping people with mental disabilities sedentary lest they injure themselves, or of keeping their existence a secret.

“When the full judgement of the Kennedy legacy is made – including J.F.K.’s Peace Corp and Alliance for Progress, Robert Kennedy’s passion for civil rights and Ted Kennedy’s efforts on health care, workplace reform and refugees – the changes made by Eunice Shriver may well be seen as the most consequential.” U.S. News and World Report said in its cover story of Nov. 15, 1993.

So, should Eunice Kennedy Shriver be considered for Sainthood? Consider this:

    In the Catholic Church the formal process of sainthood involves a complicated process taking time, money, testimonies, and miracles, and the church follows a strict set of rules in the process.

    First, to determine who qualifies, the Vatican looks to its Congregation for the “Causes of Saints”. Typically, a would-be candidate’s “cause” is presented to the local bishop by his or her admirers who persuade him that the life of the candidate was a model of holiness.   

     Once the applicant is approved as a candidate, an appointed postulator interviews those who knew the individual. Personal testimonies, letters, and writings of the candidate’s are put together. A relater then sifts through this information and prepares a position paper. If the volumes of evidence prove a life of “heroic virtue”,  the person is given the title “venerable” by the Pope.  

        The next title, beatified (blessed), is attained if it can be proven that a miracle occurred after the death of the candidate, the result of someone praying to that person for help.

       To finalize a canonization, it must be established that a second miracle occurred.  (Martyrs are the exception. The pope can reduce their miracle requirement to one or waive it altogether.)  Most often prayer requests are for a physical healing. 

Verifying a miracle is considered the most difficult hurdle in the process. Just deciding what constitutes one causes debate. A life of heroic virtue is obviously easier to establish than a healing that results from prayers.

Editors note: I’d like to cast the first vote for her as “An American Saint.”

1. The Kennedy Family, and the Story of Mental Retardation…Edward Shorter

By Michael J. McCurdy, Founder/Publisher   HealthNewsDigest.com

A Billionaire Ignores My Advice

A Billionaire Ignores My Advice

I had just returned from a whirl-wind tour of Europe. Six cities in 14 days. As a young American man in his twenties, I didn’t appreciate how old everything looked. Rome (ancient), Paris (Eiffel tower-so what?) Berlin (grim), London (too proper), Amsterdam (where does all the water go?), Copenhagen (beautiful blond girls with blue/green eyes – don’t remember anything else :) Why didn’t I stay?

I got on the bus in New Jersey on my way to what I expected to be a very exciting job – salesman for a television program distribution company, on Park Avenue, New York City. Once in the city, I proceeded on two more buses until I reached Park Avenue and 59th street. Standing on the corner looking south, I had to inhale as my breath was taken from my chest. Park Avenue was split in the middle by a series of grass islands between each numbered street, all the way to 43rd street, where  the view was blocked by the old Pan Am building strattled across the avenue. Both sides of the islands had canals laid with black asphalt – one going south, the other north. As my eyes were drawn south they were pulled up from the street to reveal each side of the avenue’s glass sky scrapers standing proudly, glistening in the sun.

“My God – this is America!”  I said to myself. In one moment, I realized what a great country I lived in. I wanted to run to my new job which was in a 38 story sky scraper on the left-hand, or east side of this great throughoufare, on fifty-third street. It was one of the great new buildings – The Seagrams building.

I took my time walking down the avenue and as I looked up at all of the sky scrapers. I couldn’t believe how may sales opportunities awaited me. I imagined myself spending a month alone making calls on just one street.

As I approached my new place of employment, I marveled at the steps leading up to a plaza with dual water fountains welcoming me to revolving doors and marble floors in an expansive lobby. A sign pointed to the entrance of one of the city’s Power restaurants: “The Four Seasons.”  I would later be mildly scolded for entertaining potential clients at my “Power Luncheons.” On any given day, you were lunching with the city’s power brokers, celebrities and sports stars. I decided quite quickly that I liked this life.

Much copied but not matched, the Seagram Building is generally recognized as the finest example of skyscrapers in the International Style.

The elevator whisked me up to the 36th floor and my new office. I loved it. It looked out over the entire city. The man who owned Sterling Communications, Inc., also owned Sterling Movies. He was known to everyone as “Chuck”,  or Charles Dolan. Before I was hired, I had to pass a screening test by a sales psychologist, something unheard of at this time. Two weeks later I received a call that I had passed, and could report to work the following Monday.

Sterling Communications also owned Manhattan Cable (now Warner Cable) and Chuck was in the process of laying millions of feet of cable underneath Manhattan’s sidewalks and streets. It was an enormous task, frought with political backlash, not to mention kazillions of dollars in financing. In these early days, I could sense that it was a touch-and-go undertaking. I can still vividly remember my first comments, “What is this guy crazy?”

Manhattan cable went to hotel rooms in those early days, and the company had a difficult time getting anyone in a hotel room to watch what was essentially a news ticker. And then came along Michael J. McCurdy with an idea that would transform the world of cable. I am sure that with this idea alone, Chuck Dolan would make me a vice president. After spending several days flirting with his secretary, I gave her a note for Mr. Dolan…would she please pass it on to him. She smiled, and said yes!

Weeks went by before I got the courage to ask her if he had seen it. Yes, he had.

That was it – nothing else. How could he not see the benefit of having “Live Burlesque” on his channel in hotel rooms! Surely every man visiting New York could not wait until he registered at his hotel. The press would have a field day. I consoled myself by rationalizing that he was just too busy to get back to me. :)

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:  In 1972, Mr. Dolan founded Home Box Office Inc (HBO) the first premium programming service in the cable television industry. After selling Home Box Office to Time-Life, Inc. (now Time Warner), he organized Cablevision Systems Corporation on Long Island, and has spearheaded many of the company’s advancements. In 1986 he took the company public, and since 1992 the stock has risen by 400%. Estimated worth is 2.3 billon dollars.

Oh yeah, he also owns Madison Square Garden, the NY Knicks, NY Rangers, and Radio City Music Hall. Me? I was wooed away a year later to a television production company as a producer. I loved every minute in a long career. Now?  I’m writing this blog :) If only Chuck had read my note :)

Mike McCurdy, Founder/Publisher   HealthNewsDigest.com