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Prayer Proves Powerful In Fight Against Formidable Foe!
CHESHIRE, Conn. —Don Walsh woke his sister, Anne, dousing water on her face in the middle of the night. He urgently announced she was late for school. A frantic Anne jumped out of bed; and wiping her face, she rushed to get ready.
"When she arrived downstairs dressed and ready for the day ahead, my parents were confused," says Don, who chuckles when remembering the prank. "They informed her it was only 11 o’clock at night."
Although like most other families, tomfoolery was often the order of the day, the Walsh family was also very religious, living out the precepts of their faith through good works and outreach to those around them. Anne, who was particularly devout to her faith even from childhood, remembers the spiritual experiences the family shared growing up.
"We had typical sibling relationships," she says. "Our family went on a lot of trips and outings. But we were also a spiritual family and would always pray the rosary together."
Anne went on to dedicate her life to God and the church, becoming a nun at age 22. She is now a member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Hamden, Conn. Throughout the years Sister Anne’s bond with her brother continued to strengthen. Don, leaving the high jinks of youth behind, eventually married and had two children of his own. Don and his younger sister, however, were always there for one another through good times and bad even when Don learned his wife, Jenifer, had multiple sclerosis (MS), a potentially debilitating disease.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. There is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness, loss of mobility and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.
Despite her diagnosis, Jenifer’s positive attitude led her to put together a team for the annual Travelers Walk MS. Walk teams consist of a group of people working together to raise funds. Once Sister Anne heard about the Walk MS and Team Jenifer she wanted to help immediately — however, at the time she was a missionary in Taiwan. She wouldn’t be able to walk with Team Jenifer, but that didn’t stop her from stepping up to become a "spiritual walker."
"I e-mailed everyone on my contact list," says Sister Anne. "I asked if they would be willing to offer prayers on the day of the Walk MS. I asked them to pray the rosary for a cure for Jenifer and for the success of Team Jenifer. I got an overwhelming response."
Sister Anne took all of the e-mails and created a book for her sister-in-law. The book featured the prayers of all those who couldn’t be there at the walk event.
"I included from whom and where the prayers originated," says Sister Anne. "A lot of people wrote back throughout the day. Prayers were offered up from Brazil, Asia, Italy and the United States. It was as if intercession did not cease for an entire day."
"The prayers help Jenifer get through each day," says Don. "Jenifer was moved. You need faith to live a fulfilled life. Without faith there isn’t a lot to look forward to. We have faith and hope that someday there will be a cure."
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Jenifer, are battling the effects of MS. Funds raised through chapter events, such as the Travelers Walk MS, ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cure and the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter to Connecticut families affected by the disease.
"Don and Jenifer’s spirit is enthusiastic and contagious," says Sister Anne. "Although the effects of Jenifer’s MS are now somewhat evident, her positive outlook makes her symptoms almost unnoticeable".
Sister Anne returned to Connecticut three years ago. Last year she was able to attend the walk event and step out with Team Jenifer at the Cheshire walk site. She and other members of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus not only walked, but also prayed along the way. This year Sister Anne and her fellow Sisters will be there again to support the fight against MS and to intercede for a cure.
To join Team Jenifer, please contact Jenifer Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Rebecca Meyer at 860-714-2300, ext 241. To learn more about the 2008 Travelers Walk MS, please visit www.ctfightsMS.org. For more information on MS, its effects and programs and services offered by the chapter, please e-mail programs@ctfightsMS.org.
CUTLINE:Devoted to faith, Sister Anne Walsh, prays for a cure for MS at the Chapel of Apostles of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Hamden, Conn. Sister Anne Walsh is a member of the MS walk team, Team Jenifer. She steps out at the annual walk MS: Travelers Walk in support of her sister-in-law Jenifer Walsh who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 10 years ago.
CUTLINE: Sister Anne Walsh sits next to the Flags of Nations, where Apostles of Sacred Heart of Jesus missions are located.
Amanda Stowe, a resident of Farmington, Conn., is currently a senior majoring in Communications at Central Connecticut State University. Stowe will graduate in May.