June 17, 2012 8:27 PM
Father saved Down syndrome son's life, lost his own
A Father's Sacrifice
In life and death, my father taught me by his actions what it means to love sacrificially
by Father Thomas Vander Woude
Three and a half years ago, I was called to an emergency room to console a family that had lost its dad. I also anointed the injured son whom the father had died to save. Priests are often called to the hospitals, but this visit was different: The dad was my father, Thomas Vander Woude, and the son he saved was my youngest brother, Joseph.
Priests are often called to the hospitals, but this visit was different: The dad was my father, Thomas Vander Woude, and the son he saved was my youngest brother, Joseph.
My father's death came after Joseph, who has Down syndrome, fell into a septic tank on the family's land. My father jumped into the tank to rescue Joseph but was unable to climb out himself. My dad's heroic action was the fulfillment of his vocation, as every husband and father is called to sacrifice his life for his wife and children. His fulfillment as a man and the joy of his vocation depend on it.
St. Paul exhorts men to love their wives "as Christ loved the Church, handing himself over for her" (Eph 5:25). How does a husband and father hand himself over to his bride and children? He follows the example of Jesus Christ, who offered himself on the cross for his bride (the Church) and for his children (all of us). Most husbands and fathers will not be required to give up their lives to the point of death. But every husband and father is required to give up his life for his wife and children in daily sacrifice. The small and hidden sacrifices of family life can be challenging but can lead to perfection when practiced over time.
In fact, every man -- whether single, married or consecrated -- is called to give himself to God and his neighbor. A boy learns this lesson of self-gift in the family, particularly from his father. Even more important than a father's words to his sons is his example of self-gift to his family and to God. When a father speaks of sacrifice through his actions, a boy learns the essence of manhood.
Read more at Knights of Columbus
I loved this story, and wrote about how Senator Sam Brownback used Tom VanderWoude's heroic sacrifice in a speech on the Senate floor to pass a bill providing information to help mothers expecting babies with special needs.
The bill passed unanimously, however HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius never allowed it to have the $5 million funding, so it is useless.
Tom Vander Woude, pray for us!
Posted by: Leticia Velasquez | June 18, 2012 1:29 PM