Mary Dowd has always believed God decides when a life begins and ends.
When her mother’s health rapidly declined last year, Dowd found the support she needed through a local Catholic apostolate to ensure that life wasn’t cut short.
“It’s God who decides when we die. It should not be our decision and we shouldn’t help it along,” said Dowd, a parishioner at Our Lady in Loreto Church in Foxfield.
After a series of hospital visits and medical problems, doctors discovered Dowd’s mother, Masako, had a brain infection. Other complications including kidney failure prompted medical staff’s advice to “let her fall asleep and die” at home, Dowd said.
Dowd’s conscience told her otherwise.
“I was just floored,” she said. “Hospice wanted me to bring her and just let her die. I just couldn’t do that.”
Despite protests, Dowd, 60, encouraged dialysis to treat her mother’s kidneys with her consent.
Her mother’s life was prolonged enough for her to receive anointing of the sick and for lawyers to finalize her will through the help of Divine Mercy Supportive Care apostolate.
The apostolate was founded to assist with end-of-life decisions via medical, supportive and spiritual services consistent with Church teaching—all free-of-charge.
Kevin Lundy, president and CEO of Divine Mercy, is heading the effort with Mark Skender, vice president of development, and Deacon Alan Rastrelli, M.D., medical director and spiritual advisor to the apostolate.
Their mission, Lundy said, is to provide compassionate care and affirm the dignity and sanctity of life in the midst of a culture of death.
One way is through their seminars that address questions on end-of-life care, creating a will and advanced medical directives. Their next panel presentation is Feb. 7 at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Aurora.
“Our belief is we need to arm the Catholic population with this information,” Lundy told the Denver Catholic Register.
The apostolate also offers those financially unable with legal, financial or medical consulting services. Even the chance to reconnect with family members before death is offered through its Grace Program.
The apostolate offers medical advice through Deacon Rastrelli, who is a medical doctor.
Dowd said Deacon Rastrelli responded when she asked for guidance with her mother. He examined Masako and helped Dowd decide where to take her mother before her death, based on its partnership with hospice agencies that adhere to its Catholic Standards of Care guide.
Divine Mercy also arranged for a lawyer to draft Masako’s will and Father William Clemence, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Loreto Church, visited to anoint her.
“I knew at that moment she was going was going to be with God,” Dowd said.
The priest also said her funeral when she died at 82 in August 2013.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the values of their Christianity,” Dowd said.
With their assistance, she felt her mother’s life was given the care and attention needed to prepare for the next life.
“Her last conscious moments were getting ready for last rites,” Dowd said about her mother. “It’s a comfort to me.”
Divine Mercy Supportive Care fundraiser
What: Wine and tapas
When: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 15
Where: 4682 S. Elizabeth Court, Denver
Tickets: $75 each purchased at http://event.DMSCI.org.
Info: Call 303-357-2540
The night includes Mass, a cocktail hour, presentation, entertainment and a silent auction.
Upcoming Panel Presentation
When: 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 7
Where: St. Michael the Archangel Church, 19099 E. Floyd Ave., Aurora
Info: Call 303-357-2540 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To read about the apostolate’s Catholic Standard of Care, visit www.dmsci.org.