Thursday June 24, 2010

ND 88 Pro-Lifer Suffers Heart Attack, Diagnosed with Stress Disorder Thanks to Prosecution

By Kathleen Gilbert

Updated 11:25am EST 6.25.10

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, June 24, 2010 ( – Thanks to the strain of being subjected to criminal prosecution on charges of trespassing, one of the 88 peaceful pro-life protesters arrested at the University of Notre Dame in May of last year recently suffered a heart attack. According to Dr. Therese Beste’s doctor, she continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress related to the prosecution.

The doctor’s diagnosis has been submitted to the pro-lifers’ defense lawyer as members of the group, known as the “Notre Dame 88,” continue to face prosecution and a possible penalty of up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Beste, a Michigan resident, told (LSN) that she travelled to Indiana in May 2009 because she was “horrified” to learn that Notre Dame, “Our Blessed Mother’s University,” would be honoring “the most pro-abortion politician in our nation.” The university had invited Obama to give the commencement address and receive an honorary law degree.

Beste says she is a devotee of the Virgin Mary, to whose intercession Roman Catholics attribute the end of ritual child sacrifice among Native Americans, after Mary appeared in a vision to Mexican peasant Juan Diego 500 years ago. Beste said, “Our Lady would be horrified to see a proponent of more child sacrifice walking on her ground. “

“The affront to Our Lady, to life and the graphic example of the lack of good, solid Catholic teaching in our Catholic schools came together for me at Notre Dame and I could no longer stand by and watch,” she said. Beste said she joined a group led by Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society.

When pro-life and pro-Obama protesters converged on Notre Dame’s campus on commencement day, witnesses say only pro-lifers – recognizable for carrying pro-life imagery, rosaries, crosses, and pictures of Mary – were arrested. Since then, University president Fr. John Jenkins has stubbornly refused to request leniency for the ND 88, who are now under the power of the county prosecutor. Pro-life leaders and Notre Dame alumni have urged Jenkins to reach out to the pro-lifers, as his influence on their behalf would likely have great weight in convincing the prosecutor to drop the charges.

While she said the day of her arrest was “joyous and grace-filled,” Beste relates that she later experienced “nights and nights of great anxiety and worry, horrific dreams of being shot by a firing squad and falling into a pit.”

“I feared going to jail for a year and what this would do to my kids,” she said. “That was an unexpected development for me: I thought we would get a fine and a ticket. I never expected to be so persecuted for standing for Catholic beliefs on a Catholic campus by my fellow Catholics.”

Eventually Beste suffered a heart attack and underwent open-heart surgery, which she called “the most painful thing that I have ever experienced.”

A note obtained by LSN from Dr. Jeffrey Bossenberger, a physician, confirmed that Beste’s stress over the events connected to her prosecution has led to worsened health.

“I feel she is suffering from post traumatic stress from [the prosecution] and obvious depression as well as her other medical problems,” he wrote. “I highly recommend, at this point, that … this case be put on hold until she is in further stable condition, both physically and mentally, or this case be pushed for dismissal.”

Beste said that she continues to pray that Notre Dame “become a true Catholic School again and to put morality and Truth ahead of prestige and worldly glory, or it will cease to exist, cursed by the Lord for not bearing fruit.”

The University of Notre Dame has not responded to LSN’s request for comment as of late Friday morning.

Click here for Notre Dame leaders’ contact information.

See related coverage:

Notre Dame Anti-Military, Pro-Gay Protesters Let Go; Pro-Lifers Still Face Fines, Imprisonment

Notre Dame Pres Jenkins: Visit to Notre Dame was Good for Obama