By Patrick B. Craine
BOSTON, Massachusetts, January 15, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Maddy Curtis of Bluemont, Virginia, the 16-year-old daughter of an award-winning pro-life blogger, impressed American Idol judges on the show this week, who unanimously advanced her to the next round.
The opening segment featured a powerful testimony about her family of 12 children, and her brothers with Down syndrome - one biological (Jonny) and three adopted (Jesse, Daniel, and Justin).
Maddy explained that her parents, Tripp and Barbara, adopted their first, Jesse, so that Jonathan would have “more of a companion.” After their first adoption, they served as a resource to counsel couples whose babies were diagnosed with Down syndrome, which led to two more adoptions.
About her disabled brothers, Maddy said, as tears welled up in her eyes, that, “I think some people are a little sceptical of Down syndrome. Those four boys bring out the best in every person they meet. They see the world in colors, and we need to see the world that way.”
In the audition, Maddy sang a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah', yielding praise even from the normally-critical Simon Cowell. "Very good,” he said. “You've got a nice voice. Bit of soul in there, Maddy."
Maddy has been training as a singer for several years, and has entered a number of competitions, as well as playing the lead role in her high school's musical and starring in local concerts.
Despite her many accomplishments, however, her parish priest told LifeSiteNews that Maddy’s role singing as cantor at Mass every week is what's most important to her.
“Even though she's very accomplished at her age, she said that it makes her more nervous to sing at Mass than everywhere else,” said Fr. Ronald Escalante, pastor at St. Frances de Sales parish in Purcellville, Virginia. “She said, 'I'm singing for God', and it overwhelms her.”
“The whole parish enjoys it when she is singing, because they see this young 16-year-old girl leading the congregation in singing for the Mass,” he added.
The Curtis family were Evangelicals for twenty years, but two years ago, Maddy, her parents, and her four brothers with Down syndrome were all received into the Catholic Church. “They rely a lot on God's divine providence,” said Fr. Escalante. “They live by faith.”
“[Maddy] is a high-standards Christian girl, which I think is a good witness to the young people,” he said. “Even though she's very gifted with her singing, she is definitely someone who does not compromise her faith. ... She is a very, very good, down-to-earth, solid, sincere Christian Catholic.”
Fr. Escalante emphasized that the Curtis' are a “very, very pro-life” family, who, he said, “don't just preach about it, [but] actually live it.” Barbara, the mother of the family, is a professional writer and pro-life speaker who runs a popular pro-life blog.
Fr. Escalante believes the Curtis’ witness on American Idol was “just a grace of God.” “Every time I watch, I tell you, I get teary-eyed, because [Maddy] really got a lot more out of it than just being an audition,” he said. “She was able to showcase how good it is to be growing up with Down syndrome brothers. ... I thought this was a good exposure to plug in on a well-watched national and international setting – a chance for people to see these kids are beautiful kids.”
“My personal opinion is, anybody who would have been contemplating to get an abortion because they were diagnosed [with a Down syndrome baby],” he observed, “would probably think on that, because they really presented her story so well.”
See Barbara Curtis' blog: Mommy Life