Thursday, September 18, 2008

Heartwarming Article

I'm not posting this article from the September 19th edition of The Tidings, the Los Angeles Archdiocese newspaper, because of the pro-life aspect of the story. Instead, I'm sharing it just because I find it to be heartwarming. Hoping you like it too!

'The baby who was born too soon' thrives
By Betsy Potts

"Pray for the baby who was born too soon…" is the opening line to a poem that Katherine Meyer's mother dedicated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Tarzana Regional Medical Center.

On Dec. 7, 1989, Katherine Meyer was born two months premature. Because of her undeveloped lungs, she was immediately put on a high pressure respirator. Unfortunately, the pressure was set too high and caused Katherine to have brain bleeds. She spent the first three months of her life in the hospital and was one of the sickest preemies the NICU had ever had.

Her prognosis was grim. The doctors said that there would be permanent damage to her hearing, and that her lungs would be weak. They also predicted she would not be able to walk or open her hands.

Last June 14, Katherine Meyer walked down the steps of La Reina High School in Thousand Oaks and graduated with her class. Her hands held a diploma and a dozen roses.

But the doctors were not entirely wrong about Katherine. She does have hearing loss: she is 50 percent hearing impaired, with 90 percent impairment at high frequencies. She also has asthma. And ADHD. But her disabilities have only made her determined to overcome them.

This determination came early. When Katherine was very young, she wanted to play the piano like her older siblings. Today, she is an accomplished pianist, who has created original medleys --- a ragtime medley of Scott Joplin songs, and a church medley of liturgical songs --- all extraordinary accomplishments for any 18-year-old. What makes Katherine even more extraordinary, though, is her generosity. For the last four years, she has played the piano at every school Mass and at every graduation.

According to Katherine, a turning point in her life was coming to La Reina in the eighth grade.

Determined to make the most of her experience, she immediately joined the Speech and Debate Club, Campus Ministry and the liturgical music group. She has remained active in all three.
Speech and debate proved to be the biggest challenge because her speech has been affected by her limited hearing. Frustrated by her inability to place at competitions and by judges' comments like, "difficult to understand," "work on enunciation and vocal clarity," Katherine practiced and practiced. Soon, she began to win and reached another milestone: for two years in a row, she qualified for the state tournament.

What has meant the most to Katherine throughout high school is her association with the Sisters of Notre Dame. A non-Catholic, she has played the piano for them at their Sunday Masses at Notre Dame Center and at all their special events. At the Sisters' July 12 jubilee celebration, under the direction of Christopher Walker, she accompanied a choir of Sisters and Associates of Notre Dame and members of the St. Paul the Apostle (Westwood) and St. Mary Magdalen (Camarillo) choirs.

"I love being at the convent," she says. "From the moment I walked in, I clicked with the sisters. They have been welcoming, and fun to be around. They treat me as though I am one of them."
Her faith, which she describes as "weak" before coming to La Reina, has strengthened to such an extent that she has expressed interest in becoming a Catholic.

This fall, Katherine will attend Cal Poly Pomona where she will major in business with an emphasis in marketing and minor in music performance.

Indeed, the "baby who was born too soon" not only lived, but thrived. Her classmates and the sisters and the staff see her not as a girl with limitations, but as a girl whose personal courage, strength, and generosity, inspire the entire La Reina community.

The Tidings' site may be found at

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