Stories our world needs to hear: An interview with Author Sherry Boas
GILBERT, Arizona, January 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - What does a mother of five children all under the age of 13, one of whom has Down Ssndrome, do with her spare time when she is not washing, cleaning, cooking, and home schooling her children? She writes gripping fiction, of course. Not just any kind of fiction, but powerful emotional novels that are taking the culture of life by storm.
Sherry Boas, 44, devout Catholic, married to Phil Boas, and mother and teacher of her children, says she is passionate for truth and picky about little else, except for how her coffee is “grown, harvested, roasted, ground, stored and brewed.” Sherry places such a high value on friendship, however, that she is willing to “drink even a bad cup of coffee with a good friend.”
Sherry has written a trilogy of novels that set out to “subtly address” as she says “a good number of issues contributing to the culture of death”. These issues include abortion, euthanasia, sterilization, unresponsive medical care, divorce, infidelity, and promiscuity. She sees her writing as a way of responding to what the late Pope John Paul II called “the New Evangelization,” whereby one reaches out to people searching for meaning through compelling media.
Her novels have been hailed by critics as “masterful”, “riveting”, “heart-wrenching”, “brilliantly written”, “truly beautiful”, “fully imagined”, and “made for our times”.
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LifeSiteNews contacted Sherry to find out just who this woman is and what she is offering to the world through her novels.
Sherry and her husband have a strong love for life. After the couple married in 1996 they soon became troubled that they were not able to conceive children. Infertility however did not stop them from having children. The couple decided to adopt their children, four of them, all from various difficult backgrounds. One child was exposed in utero to crack cocaine, alcohol, and cigarettes. Another child they adopted was born with Down syndrome.
They were eventually blessed with a child of their own. But even he had a difficult background, born 15 weeks premature and weighing only a pound and a half. Sherry and Phil are convinced that their biological son John, who is now 6, is a walking miracle.
Sherry holds a B.S. in journalism from Arizona State University and wrote for a daily newspaper for ten years. She has won numerous awards as a journalist. After adopting, Sherry left journalism for what she saw as a move up-the-ladder to the vocation of motherhood.
It was Sherry’s experiences as a mother to her children that inspired her with a message that she passionately desired to convey to the world. After the kids were in bed, she found herself sitting in front of the computer with coffee and ice cream furiously pounding away at the keyboard. She wrote about what she calls “truth” that “resounds in the struggles and triumphs of everyday family life”. While Sherry’s stories are made up, the context of her fiction is as real as the daily events that unfold in the life of her family.
“I draw virtually all my material for my books from everyday family life. I find it a rich reflection of the beauty of God’s kingdom,” she says, adding that family life is a “place of mercy, forgiveness, unconditional love”, a place where “selfishness” is broken down and where each member helps the others “ultimately get to Heaven.”
The author says that her world view has been formed and continues to be formed by the “wisdom and love of Holy Mother Church.” This does not mean, she says, that one has to be a believer to enjoy her books, but it does mean that one has to be “at least somewhat open to beauty, mercy and compassion.”
Sherry’s life is truly a rich tapestry of sorrows and joys, threads from which she weaves into her novels. Readers say that they cannot put them down once they pick them up.
“My great sorrow is all the years I lived outside the fullness of Truth and Light, making up my own rules instead of following Jesus, even in the many moments when He was saying, ‘Come follow me.’ But that’s how merciful Jesus is. He kept inviting and inviting, until finally I could resist His love no longer.”
Sherry shared that her crosses have to do with her own “inner struggles with living up to the joy and love we are called to live as followers of Jesus.” She feels that God has giving her so many blessings and yet, in each moment, she says “I don’t always respond with gratefulness and joy. My crosses are my own impatience, my own selfishness, my own unwillingness to surrender every moment to Him for the simple reason that He gave everything - even His very life - for me.”
But Sherry’s experiences of sorrows and crosses do not have the final word in her novels, rather a profound sense of joy, love, and hope-filled expectation. For Sherry, the greatest joys come from the same coin that has sorrow as the other side.
“I have had many great joys: my coming to fully understand the beauty, love, mercy and life offered to us in the Holy Eucharist; each new baby I hold in my arms, each miracle we witness in our children’s lives, each Baptism, each First Holy Communion. My work, which has introduced me to so many wonderful people.” One “great joy” that still brings tears to Sherry’s eyes is what she calls the “miracle that allowed me to see my little boy, John, grow up.”
Sherry says that she has learned many important lessons while journeying through life. “The great lesson I have learned is that holiness consists in the complete surrender to the will of God.” She and her husband believe that their infertility taught them their “greatest lesson” which allowed them to turn a “personal tragedy” into their “greatest joy”.
“I am grateful for our infertility. Without it, we would never have known these four children who have made our lives so rich. Our adoptions have so clearly been guided by God. We see adoption as just another way that God builds families - brings souls together on this journey to Him.” The couple is convinced that God’s plan for their family with their adopted children “far surpasses our wildest dreams.”
Sherry draws from this deep well of sorrow, joy, gratitude, faith, hope, and love to craft her profound tales. “I feel my calling is to write fiction that is laden with truth. Fiction is the path I have chosen to reach a world that might not be open to the pro-life message presented in a straight-up fashion,” says the author.
Sherry pointed out that Jesus reached out to people in a similar way through parables which are similar to fiction. “If reaching the culture through fiction is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.” It is her hope that through works of art, including works of fiction, “we can take the message of hope and gospel truths to a society that is becoming increasingly secular and resistant to the message of Life and beauty.”
The primary message that the author hopes to give her readers is that “hope reigns and mercy is unbounded”. Sherry believes that the world is thirsting for the message of “hope and mercy”.
“The problems our world faces today are caused by fear. Love and fear cannot co-exist. Where there is love, fear flees. Why does a woman have an abortion? She is afraid of something. Why does a woman carry a child, bearing all the discomfort and pain that goes with it? She does it out of love.”
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, AZ has called Sherry’s novels “made for our times,” adding that they are “another sign that the Lord is building a culture of life today, even as the culture of death rages around us.”
“Thank God for writers like Sherry Boas whose words could only arise from a heart that is familiar with the mystery of the cross,” said the Bishop.
Note: An upcoming piece to appear on LifeSiteNews will examine Sherry Boas’ Lily Trilogy more closely. Stay tuned.
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Planned Parenthood closes Iowa abortion facility because of low business
DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.
Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”
The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.
“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.
As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.
“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.
American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.
“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”
That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.
Be loving and compassionate, he said.
“Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”
Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.
Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.
Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers
MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.
Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.
DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.
DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.
She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.
“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”
Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.
“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.
After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.
“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”
Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.
"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.
DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.
Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.
Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.
When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:
The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana. https://t.co/1VOroXS2br— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”
DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary.
The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage
May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.
Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.
This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.
Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.
Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.
“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:
In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.
By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”
That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”
Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.
And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.
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