This week, speaking of the miracle of life, I’d like to highlight and to offer our parish’s congratulations to Lucas Warren, an 18-month-old from Dalton, Georgia, who was selected last week as the “2018 Gerber Spokesbaby” from among more than 140,000 photos submitted by parents. Lucas is the first child with Down Syndrome to receive this honor.
Lucas’ mother, Cortney Warren, told the Today Show that “he’s very outgoing and never meets a stranger.” And, “He loves to play, loves to laugh, and loves to make other people laugh.” Mrs. Warren entered her son Lucas in the contest when his great-aunt mentioned that she had seen Gerber’s annual call for especially cute and photogenic babies. She posted a photo on Instagram of Lucas wearing a polka dot bow tie and an open-mouthed grin. She had dressed him up for his first Sunday church service.
For other parents, especially those who have children with Down Syndrome, it was a time to celebrate. One mom, named Samantha, posted this quote on Instagram: “[I’m] in a puddle of tears over here…my mama heart is so so thankful…when [my child] Bodie was born I believed a lie, that others would not value him as much as I do. But, today is a new day. It is such a beautiful, good day.”
Another Instagram user, who is pregnant with a child with Down Syndrome, wrote, “As a mama currently carrying a cutie with an extra chromosome this made my day!!! Thank you Gerber!!”
As you may remember, Father Suarez gave a moving homily some weeks ago about his nephew, Matthew, who has Down Syndrome—and how Matthew lights up any room he walks into, bringing joy to his family and, really, to anyone he meets. As we begin this season of Lent, let’s all pray during these days for an increased respect in our society for the gift of all human life—and especially for people with Down Syndrome who often—tragically—are not even given the chance to live.
When Lucas’ selection as the Gerber Spokesbaby was announced, one commentator observed, “This little one’s smile seems instantaneous and contagious. It’s hard, knowing the hardship the world might see for him, not to look at him and think of all the pain he alleviates with one smile. It’s as if his message to the world is: “Lighten up and love already! That’s my approach! I’m enjoying it! You should try it.”
Father Marcello is the Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Trumbull