Something wonderful has happened. Our Indiana friends, the O'Neills, sent us a book just published: GOD'S LITTLE HOBO, the Life of Virginia Cyr. Virginia had cerebral palsy and her mother couldn’t bear to be near her, so she abandoned Virginia and her brother Jimmy when they were very young. The CP began to manifest itself when she was 4 years old. She lived a tragic life, by many's standards, but not hers. She died at their home on Feb. 3, 1967, at the age of 24.
She was full of joy, yet lived with unbearable pain. She is the only person I’ve felt so sure was a Saint, with a capital S. Because Virginia had no mother (to speak of) she claimed Mother Mary as her mother, and wrote almost daily to her. This collection of letters makes up the book. It is truly beautiful, and will move your soul.
Virginia wanted so desperately to join the convent, ANY convent! But none would take her because of her handicap. She finally gave her life as a co-missionary for Fr. Keith Hosey, hence our connection. Keith used to bring her to Elwood for visits from Kokomo where she was living. She loved being in our Charles de Foucauld Fraternity meetings, though she had a hard time talking. Her body jerked with spasms, and she couldn't lie down. She sat propped up in a corner of the room (wherever she was) or in her wheelchair, and slept in a recliner, though she slept very little because of the pain.
We met Virginia through Keith, and had her at our home many times for short 2 or 3 day visits. Dave was two years old at that time, and Virginia wanted so badly to hug him. But if she got a hold of him she couldn't control her arms and would end up squeezing him in a spasm so tightly that he would scream to get free. This broke her heart, and ours, too.
Anyway, she went often to the Benedictine Monastery at St. Meinrad, and there met Brother Quentin, who put this book together. The monks there were so good to her, and made her little pine coffin that she wanted, and brought it to Ted and Ruth's for her to see and approve.
Virginia never had a "home". She was God's little hobo, and went wherever someone took her. She had great joy in her wracked little body, and we always had a great time when we had her with us. If she got to laughing too hard, she would go into a terrible muscle spasm and scare us to death.
She was in Mercy Hospital in 1966, seriously ill, and Ted and Ruth offered her a home. She was fading away and only had a few months. She had a room downstairs, and many visitors. A little altar was at the foot of her bed, where many priests said Mass. There is a sweet picture in the book of Ruth and Fr. Keith with Virginia during those last months. The Kiefer family was very good to her, and she loved being there in all that confusion and noise.
As Brother Quentin said, when Virginia died he did not pray for the repose of her soul. He prayed TO her. That's the way all of us felt. I have no idea if Virginia will ever be formally canonized by the church, nor is it important. Those of us who knew her, knew we were being touched by an Angel, and our lives were changed forever.
I read the first few pages in bed last night to Dick, and cried so hard I couldn't go on. I think it's her sweetness that gets you, and my memories of her being with me, and sharing in our life. And her total abandonment to God's will. How wonderful for Keith that he has such a patron saint. Reading Virginia's life in her own words is beautiful.
And if you're wondering how anyone so totally disabled could write lengthy letters, she did them on a typewriter that was rigged specially for her. I can't even imagine how long
it would have taken her to type a letter, but of course, 'time' for Virginia was different. She was in control of nothing, owned nothing, was able to do nothing but sit and lean, but she gave herself to God 100%, and to whatever His plan was for her.
You'll enjoy this book.
Virginia Cyr, God's Little Hobo