Known as “The National Mass for Terri’s Day”, the Ave Maria University website announced on March 27, 2009, that the University would host a memorial service at the Ave Maria University Oratory in memory of Terri Shiavo, whose death was highly publicized and controversial in the United States, especially within Catholic and other Christian religious communities.
Terri Shiavo suffered brain damage and entered a persistent vegetative state [PVS] after an accident at home resulting from the physical toll of bulimia in 1990. After eight years of therapeutic treatments, Shiavo’s husband and guardian, Michael Shiavo, upheld the Do Not Resuscitate order and a seven-year court battle began between Shiavo’s husband and parents, Robert and Mary Schindler. The Schindlers continued to believe their daughter could recover, despite all medical analysis to the contrary. The Schindlers gathered support from numerous Christian groups because of the common Christian belief in opposing euthansia, as well as political support from the President George W. Bush based on his personal religious beliefs.
On March 20, 2004, Pope John Paul II addressed the participants of the International Congress with Life Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas and stated:
“The evaluation of probabilities, founded on waning hopes for recovery when the ‘vegetative state’ is prolonged beyond a year, cannot ethically justify the cessation or interruption of minimal care for the patient including nutrition and hydration. Death by starvation or thirst is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal. In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and willingly, true and proper euthanasia by omission.
“In this regard, I recall what I wrote in the Encyclical Evangelium vitae, making it clear that ‘by Euthanasia in the true and proper sense must be understood an action or omission which by its very nature and intention brings about death, with the purpose of eliminating all pain’; such an act is always ‘a serious violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person’ health care providers are morally bound to provide food and water to patients in a persistent vegetative state. Since Shiavo was a devote Roman Catholic in life, her parents raised many objections on her behalf using Roman Catholic dogma.”
This 2004 statement brought the Schindlers to launch another legal battle against their son-in-law over their daughter’s life, claiming Shiavo’s life as a devoted Roman Catholic would negate any Do Not Resuscitate orders.
The decision of a local court in Pinellas County, Florida made a final disconnection of Terri Shiavo’s life support and she died on March 31, 2005.
Organized by Priests For Life and Terri’s Foundation, The National Mass for Terri’s Day is an annual religious event with the intention of bringing awareness, education and compassion for individuals who are sick, disabled or otherwise vulnerable so that no one would suffer how Shiavo was perceived to have suffered in the seven years that her husband and parents fought over her dignity and life.
Held on March 31st of every year, individuals wanting to attend can join with others in Naples, Florida at the Ave Maria University Oratory on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 5:15 p.m. for a Roman Catholic Memorial Mass religious service.
For this Memorial Mass, Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests For Life, will be the attending Celebrant and Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, President of Human Life International, will be the attending Co-Celebrant.
For more information, call Ave Maria University toll free from within the United States at 1-877-283-8648.