Catholic Teen With Down Syndrome Hoping to Serve Mass at Churches in All 50 States

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 12, 2016   |   6:26PM   |   Washington, DC

When Rick and Christina Jackson learned that their baby girl had Down syndrome, they faced some scary predictions from their doctors.

Doctors said baby Kara would not be able to lift her head or talk, and they even suggested that the family consider putting her up for adoption, the family told the National Catholic Register. But the Jacksons refused to give up their daughter or view her as less valuable because of her condition.

Now, 18 years later, Kara has defied the doctor’s predictions. She is making headlines for her accomplishments and her special goal to help serve Mass at Catholic churches in all 50 states. On July 1, she reached the 40th on her list, according to the report.

The Ohio family said the project began with a dream that Kara had in 2013. Christina admitted to the newspaper that she was skeptical at first. She said Kara has health problems, and on top of that, she did not know how they would afford the travel costs.

Here’s more from the NCR report:

But Kara was persistent. Christina and her husband, Rick, took the idea to their local priests in Middletown, Ohio, for their opinion. The late Msgr. Paul Metzger encouraged Kara because he had traveled to every state celebrating Mass. Father John Civille, their pastor, told Kara he would be her personal chaplain in Alaska and Hawaii.

With their support, Kara’s mother looked to the closest state, Indiana, to “test the waters.” Kara, having a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, suggested stopping at St. Mary Catholic Church in Richmond.

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“I didn’t think there was a St. Mary’s,” her mother said, but, sure enough, “they have a St. Mary’s.”

The family said a prayer and sent a letter to the parish. That Friday, at 3pm, the pastor of the parish called back welcoming Kara. The evening before Divine Mercy Sunday, she stood with Father Kevin Morris and served Mass in her second state.

The family described their project as a kind of pilgrimage. They said Kara prays for the priests and churches at each stop; in turn, each of the priests writes her an encouraging note about her mission.

With ten states left on her list, Kara hopes to continue her project after she begins college in the fall. According to the report, she plans to attend the special needs program at Butler Tech University and hopes to become an actress and writer.

Society continuously underestimates how much people with disabilities can accomplish – so much so that sometimes families are pressured to abort unborn babies who are diagnosed with disabilities. It has become such a pervasive problem that some studies even estimate as many as 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.

But Kara’s story and many others are shining a light on the truth that every human life is valuable, no matter what their ability is.