March 20, 2016

Warning:  This story is going to make you smile. 

Next Saturday, while we are all getting ready to celebrate Easter, Tiffany Nemanich will be getting ready to lector at the Easter Vigil.

Now lectoring at a Saturday evening Mass isn’t unusual for Tiffany—for the past six years or so, she’s been a regular lector at our 5:00 p.m. Mass.

But this time, it’s a little different.  She’ll be reading in St.  Peter’s Basilica In Rome, at the Easter Vigil Mass  celebrated by Pope Francis.

So how does that happen?

According to her dad, Scott, the process started when he noticed that lay people from around the world were lectoring for Pope Francis at Papal Masses.  He asked Tiffany if she’d be interested in doing that, and she said yes. With a father’s    dogged determination, he went to work.

Scott wrote a letter to one of the Papal Master of  Ceremonies.  Before mailing it, Fr. Brad gave it a read and made a few suggestions, including that Scott reach out to Bishop Joe Siegel for his insight.  

Bishop Siegel offered a few suggestions for Scott’s letter and then went one better—he added his own cover letter  supporting Tiffany.  That, according to Scott, was key.

About a month ago, the formal invitation was made from the Vatican, airplane tickets were bought, and plans were made.  

This may seem like a bit of a miracle that this all worked out, but for the Nemanich’s, miracles happen.  When Tiffany was an infant, Scott and his late wife Elaine were told Tiffany would never walk.  She’ll be walking up the stairs to the ambo at St. Peter’s.

They said she’d never ride a bike.  She’s done 30-mile rides. And they said she’d never read.  Clearly, she does that too--and with perfect pronunciation. 

At age 33, Tiffany now lives in Wisconsin in a group home with other people who have Prader-Willi Syndrome.  During the week, she works in a factory job and on weekends, when she’s on the lector schedule, Scott brings her home so she can fulfill her ministry.  

In my conversation with Scott, he had two requests:

First, he and Tiffany would like to thank everyone who helped her get this far.  Fr. Brad was her first mentor and lectors like Vicki Martell, Peg Schauer and Kelly Alt were kind and generous with their help.  Scott says he is so  grateful to those who stop to say “good job” after Mass.  It means a great deal to Tiffany and to him.

And secondly, Scott asks that we pray for Tiffany’s success while in Rome.  Understandably, she’s nervous, but they are doing a lot of prep work to make sure she’s ready. She’s reading the 7th reading (Ezekiel 36: 16-17.18-28), and she is practicing with her dad and Kelly Alt.  The Vatican MC was quick to reassure that “all will go well.”

I am confident in saying to Scott and Tiffany that the prayers, love and good wishes of the entire St. Raymond community will be with them as they make this pilgrimage to Rome.  Safe travels and many blessings to you both!

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
Director of Development, 815-722-6653, ext. 242

P.S.  Because the Easter bulletin deadlines are so tight, we’ll miss a Connections next week.  All good wishes to you and your family!



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