Parishes offer ‘extra love’ to twins born months premature

Photo Caption: Young Vincent Merriman grasps the finger of his mother, Molly, in the neonatal intensive care unit of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

By: By Jennifer Willems, The Catholic Post

If all had gone according to plan, Vincent Nicholas and Abraham William Merriman would have entered the world in mid-April. Instead, Jordan and Molly Merriman received their double blessing on Dec. 29.

The twins — called “little fighters” by grandmother Barb Merriman — have been in the neonatal intensive care unit at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria since they were born. While many would be tempted to despair, she said they all have many blessings to celebrate, too.

Among them is the support they’re receiving from Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s parishes in Peoria.

“The prayers — they have been unbelievable,” said Barb, a member of Sacred Heart Parish. “So many people have said they are praying for Jordan and Molly and the babies. The spiritual support they’ve gotten from people is the biggest thing.”

More overwhelming has been the offers of help, including a benefit dinner planned for Tuesday, March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. The parishes always celebrate the solemnity, but this year members are adding “a little extra love,” according to Claire Crone, parish secretary.

“We thought if we can surround this couple with love and prayer and give them a little extra money, they’ll know it’s not just their little family — they have an extended family,” she said.

The cost for dinner is $15 per person and the food will be provided by Michael’s Italian Feast and Basta’s. It will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the parish hall at St. Joseph’s Church, 103 Richard Pryor Place.

Father Larry Zurek, OFM, pastor, will celebrate Mass at 7:30 p.m. in the church. Prelude music will begin at 7:15 p.m. and be provided by the Sacred Heart, St. Joseph’s and Pueri Cantore choirs.

In writing to parishioners in a recent parish bulletin, Father Larry said, “Let’s make this a memorable event, (so that) the parents will be able to tell their twin sons years down the road of how a caring Christian community helped them in their hour of need.”

“We’re really touched. We have gotten to know Father Larry and it’s such a blessing,” Barb said, noting that the Franciscan priest has visited the twins and anointed them before their surgeries. “It’s a testimony to the Catholic faith.”

She said another blessing is that Jordan has a good job that allows him to split his time between Peoria and Chicago, where the couple lives, so he can be close to Molly and the babies. Humbled at first by the parishes’ efforts on their behalf, they accepted it only after talking with Father Larry.

“It’s a tangible way for people to help,” Barb said. “I think when they come to the benefit they’ll be touched by how concerned people are.”

Jordan, the son of Barb and Bill Merriman, and Molly, the daughter of Sharon and Mark Abraham, were married Oct. 11, 2008, at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Peoria. Their first children, Vincent and Abraham arrived while Jordan and Molly were visiting their families at Christmas.

In counting her blessings, Barb Merriman added the staff at the OSF Saint Francis NICU.

“The care they have gotten there has been amazing,” she told The Catholic Post. “We feel God was watching over them when they were born down here — to be close to family, friends and the NICU.”

Those who cannot attend the benefit dinner may still offer support by sending a check to the Vincent & Abraham Merriman Benefit Account, c/o Southside Bank, 8919 N. Knoxville Ave., Peoria, IL 61615.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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