Happy Endings

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Two years ago, my son Patrick was graduating from St. James Catholic School in Davis, California. He had been fully included since kindergarten. He made all of his sacraments with his class, went to sixth grade camp for a week with his classmates, participated fully for all nine years. As it was coming to an end, the assistant superintendent suggested that we make a video about Patrick’s journey. He wanted others who had never done this to see that it was possible. Patrick was the first student with Down Syndrome to graduate in the Sacramento Diocese. Very few families were asking for this and very few schools were doing it.

So, a journalist named Cheri Benson who also happened to have children at St. James, agreed to create a video for us. She wanted to share the story…and she did a beautiful job. She put her heart and soul into this seven minute piece and we can’t thank her enough.

Here it is in case you missed it:


At the end of the video, I am crying. I wish I could say they were tears of joy but actually they were tears that were bittersweet. My heart was overflowing with joy. Watching this amazing moment transpire and watching all of the friendships and true connection that Patrick had at his school was one of my greatest hopes…and it had happened! But I also was holding close a friend who was trying to begin this process at her school. One week before Patrick’s graduation her family was told no. Their son with Down Syndrome was not welcome. My tears couldn’t be stopped. I’ve heard it said that tears are just silent prayers…maybe I’m the only one who does the ugly cry…but still, even through the ugly cry I love the idea of just letting the prayers flow as easily as the tears.

LeeAnn, my friend whose son was turned down, was not crushed by that response.

Somehow she knew in a faith-filled, calm way that this was merely the seed being dropped in the dirt and being covered in darkness.

LeeAnn and Tony brought the light. They shined the light on the truth of inclusion.
On the truth of connection.
On the truth of faith…
and shined it right on down Mary Queen of Peace School.

They prayed. They worked. They reached out to mentors…and they convinced the people who needed to understand more to take a field trip to Kansas City, Missouri.
The principal and pastor and school board members and several other families got to see inclusion in action.
Thanks to the hard work and expertise of FIRE (Foundation for Inclusive Religious Education) http://firefoundation.org/
LeeAnn and friends could see inclusion in real life.

Their hearts opened up to the idea.
They came back ready to make a plan.

A non-profit was formed to help with funding.
Meet One Classroom:


They are dedicated to creating inclusive Catholic educational opportunities for children with special needs in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Their funding would answer the age-old question: “What about the money?”

This fall, they accepted not just one student with Down Syndrome but three!!
Mary Queen of Peace took the bold step to say yes. They agreed to step out of their comfort zone and begin something incredibly valuable.
Mary Queen of Peace is becoming inclusive.

There have been starts and stops but mostly it’s been a nice cruising altitude of compassion and kindness.

Sometimes, right in the middle of ordinary life comes a gift.

Mary Queen of Peace School opened theirs.
They welcomed everyone.

And when that beauty exists…well, the mojo can’t help it, it just has to come shining forth.

Enjoy The Cup Song.
Look for Chris and two other students doing The Cup Song in their very best way.

Enjoy ALL of the adorable students and faculty at Mary Queen of Peace School singing, dancing and just connecting in a beautiful way.
It doesn’t get any better.


Happy endings are real.
Here’s our proof.

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