Catholic Homes Unavailable
SIR.-I would endorse Elisabeth FitzRoy's letter of December 19. Our third child is badly retarded mentally, although a lovely child physically, and we have fought a long and lonely battle to bring her up at home, consulting over the past eight years some 30 doctors, psychiatrists and specialists, but always with the same heart-breaking answer that nothing could be done for her.
Now what little progress she has been making has stopped and we are advised on all sides to send her away. My wife has broken down and been in hospital for the last three weeks. They are releasing her only on the condition that she does not return home until the child has gone.
I have sought to find a Catholic home, approaching, through the help of our parish priest-our staunehest ally-the Mother General of an order which has several houses for the mentally retarded; but, whilst she was kindness itself. she told me that, alas, she knew of no Catholic home in England for ineducable girls under 16.
So I am forced to fall back on the Welfare State, and although there is a long waiting list, and nothing is settled, all the officials 1 have seen have been kindly. sympathetic and helpful. Where should we be without the Welfare State?
I give grateful recognition to those faithful few-Catholic and non-Catholic-who have given us active aid. Yet, although the child is not repulsive, bearing none of the usual stigmata of the mentally defective, I have been keenly conscious during these years of struggle of what Elisabeth FitzRoy defines as "the hard core of Catholics who appear unmoved by the claims of these helpless children and shun their parents".
"Hard" is the operative word. These people, who have given scant help over the years, now adopt the attitude: "You should have put her away years ago!"
If this be the attitude of the "hard core" towards a pretty child of 10, what must be their feelings towards the physically repulsive handicapped children and their even-more-to-be-pitied parents?
There is indeed room for much searching of the Catholic conscience. Mothers of mentally handicapped but educable children arc among the most sorrowful and helpless members of society in our day.
It is possible for such children to be brought up at home, and in most cases to grow up to earn a living and fit into the world. But only, only if both children and mothers are helped and loved by those about them.
That is our duty and our job. To treat them as mental lepers will not get them-or us-into heaven.
43 Gordon Road, Chingford, London, E.4.
q1R,-Can any of your readers
suggest some more intelligent expression than "cradle Catholic" for those of us who through no work of our own have always been Catholics?
.1. R. V. Welch It seems to us that, though the phrase "born Catholicis incorrect because Baprism brings us into the Church, commonsense suggests it as thr simplest term. -EDITOR, ".C.H." SIR,-T read with interest the observations by your correspondent concerning Catholic mentally handicapped children.
While there may he a hard core of Catholics who show nogreat interest in the many problems which confront families who have such children, it is more a lack of knowledge than a lack of charity that makes them so indifferent.
The problem is. however. receiving much greater publicity than hitherto, and Catholics should be encouraged by the lead given by Cardinal Godfrey, who is a Patron, and Lord Pakenham, who was recently elected Chairman, of The National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children.
As chairman of the Sunderland branch of this society, 1 appealed to the Catholic Women's Leagues in the area for support in a houseto-house collection and flag day, to raise funds for my society.
And although they were actively engaged in presenting a Pageant to mark the Lourdes Centenary year, 18 of them gave us practical assistance. and many more must have helped by their prayers.
The N.S.M.H.C. is not, of course, a specifically Catholic organisation. but there must be many Catholics numbered among its members and no one need doubt the bona fides of any society which has such an eminent Patron and Chairman.
I would urge Catholics to support such local societies, whose sole aim is the welfare of the mentally afflicted. and the support they give can he offered as thanks for their own normal children.
83 Wayman Street, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland.
Patron of Secretaries
SIR,-Your correspondent Mary Kirby is probably thinking of St. Cassian, the martyr, who was a schoolmaster at Imola in the 4th century, and whose heathen pupils stabbed him to death with their iron pens. Pope Pius XII chose St. Cassian to be the patron saint of stenographers in 1952.
If Fay Hall finds herself in desperate plight, how about invoking St. Jude, the saint who overcomes the "impossible". I hope her chief uses a ball-pointed pen.
Elinor D. Rhodes
29 Abbey Street, Faversham, Kent.
Used Christmas Cards
Syou please ask your
readers to send their used good quality Christmas cards and calendars to: Sister Th6rese, Carmelite Convent, Bridell. Cardigan.
To save postage, senders can remove the inner greeting portions and send only the pictures, which are of great value to the nuns.
.29 Parsonage Gardens,
E. J. Mirams Middlesex.