Bucharest Church Opens Center for Children with Down Syndrome: Their Joy Reveals the Presence of the Holy Spirit
“Our goal was to find inspiration in similar centers abroad and to build an integrated center, where all necessary therapies would be fully subsidized by the state and offered by licensed professionals,” explained the priest.
Romanian parents need a lot of resources to be able to take care of these children and the infrastructure is not very friendly. Thus, these children become one of the most discriminated categories, he added.
“It’s critically important that they socialize and become more confident. That’s why we needed to design an integrated project to meet all their needs. I know people who learned German and looked for a job abroad so that they could offer their children the opportunity to benefit from such therapies,” Father Radu Petre Mureșan continued.
There are more than 2,000 children with Down syndrome in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. The new center could offer daily therapies to 150 of them.
The happiest children
The happiest children
“God found me worthy of a child with Down syndrome and I know their world and their needs,” Father Radu Petre Mureșan told Basilica.ro.
The first child in the family was an adopted baby girl. Then came Teodor, the firstborn of the family. “We had the diagnosis before the birth and assumed this cross”, continued the priest.
“As I knew many clergymen who had children with Down syndrome, I ‘confessed’ bitterly to our doctor, saying that God may be punishing the children for the unworthiness of their parents,” recounted the priest.
“But the doctor contradicts him by explaining: ‘Children with Down syndrome are often born into families of priests or good Christians because they are the ones who always assume them and do not end their lives before birth.’
Indeed, although recent data show that 99% of people with Down syndrome are satisfied with their life, other statistics reveal a harsh reality: 92% of children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. In Iceland, this percentage is 100% and the country has no such children – nor the blessing they represent.
Blessing – says the priest – because this cross turned out to be a light burden, according to the promise of the Savior. “Teodor laughs constantly. I learned from him that we should live in joy. Joy is the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit – genuine, loving joy.
Teodor is eight years old and goes to a normal school. He is a cheerful and happy child.
His family experience inspired Father Radu Petre Mureșan to make a decision: “In 2020, a solemn year of the pastoral care of parents and children, I decided to do a project to help the families of these children”.
A public utility project
The centre, probably the most complex of its kind in Romania, will be ready for inauguration next February. The parish donated a plot of 300 square meters, which represents nearly one million euros, and the building is carried out by the Local Council of Sector 1 of Bucharest.
The building will have a basement, ground floor plus two other levels: 925 square meters in total, with a reception room, 10 specialized medical offices, three therapeutic education rooms, a swimming pool for hydro-kinesitherapy , an elevator, changing rooms, showers and annexes.
However, the most difficult will be to find and train therapists. Children with Down syndrome and autism need complex and personalized therapies. Children with Down syndrome need four hours a day of different therapies for 3-5 days a week, while the costs amount to 20-40 euros an hour – in a country where the average salary is around 700 euros.
But, if they receive timely therapeutic intervention, more than 75 percent recover and lead normal lives, says Father Radu Petre Mureșan. In Western countries, up to 50% of people with Down syndrome are integrated into the labor market, unlike Romania, where the rate reaches up to 0.5%, or a hundred times less.
“We want a center of excellence, a model of good practice that can help the community. It’s not even a church project – but a public utility project,” he added.
Father Radu Petre Mureșan will go even further. When one of his spiritual children asked what would happen to his special child when the father died, the priest promised him that he would also create a safe dwelling place for those who cannot be fully integrated into society.
For the parents of children diagnosed with the syndrome and who may be wondering what to do, while the doctors or those around them are pressuring to abort their children, the priest has the following message: “Let them have the courage to put the children in the world ! These children have the right to live and to have their own charisma!
What may look like a heavy cross is a saving light, says the priest.