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Archives ‘Keep life simple... Try to see the positive’

February 17, 2021

By Mary Beth Bracy
Contributing Writer

MORRISONVILLE – “Jesus has been really good to me. My faith reminds me to focus on God. It is about loving all people. I love other people so much,” revealed Carly Allen, a 22 year old from Morrisonville. I was blessed to have Carly as a student when she was in middle school at Peru Central; the genuineness of her belief and care for others shines through her joyful spirit. Carly’s kindness, sense of humor, dedication to and love of learning enlighten the lives of all of those around her.

Carly, who lives with her parents Mike and Natalie, is not deterred by her Down syndrome. When she was a baby, her parents brought her to Mass at St. Joseph’s in Treadwells Mills because there was a children’s room and it was quieter. There was a tapestry of Our Lady on the wall and Carly stared at the tapestry all throughout Mass, Natalie shared, “Mike and I just kept looking at her all during Mass and I thought that she felt this connection.” Carly’s middle name is Marie after Our Lady.

“My parents helped me make my sacraments,” Carly explained. “My Aunt Michelle and Uncle Ken are my Godparents. My Mémére (grandmother) Cecile Filion is my confirmation sponsor. Father Scott Seymour helped me a lot with the sacrament of reconciliation, which was difficult for me to understand. He’s really good to me and I just love him so much.”

When she made her First Communion, Father Joseph W. Elliot visited the family over for lunch and answered questions that Carly and her family had.

“He was really fantastic and helped with that a lot,” noted Natalie.

“I also love going to weekend Mass at St. Alexander’s,” exuded Carly. “I love going to 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday afternoon, it helps me to focus on God. Being an altar server is really wonderful to me. I like to bring the gifts to the priests. I like to pray for people when I’m serving on the altar. Special things about being an altar server are holding the book for Father and ringing the bells. Being an altar server makes me happy every day.”

Carly started serving when she was in third grade and loves it. Her mother, Natalie, said that she couldn’t wait to become an altar server. Carly had to wait until the end of third grade and, when she saw another girl in her class start serving, she approached (then parish Pastoral Associate) Pam Ballantine after Mass to say that she wanted to start serving too.

In high school, Carly belonged to the youth group at St. Alexander’s. They did activities like going to Great Escape and playing sports. They also had “paint and snack.” Carly also helped with the young children.

Carly held up a beautiful book about St. Therese that she read.

“My confirmation saint is St. Therese of Lisieux,” she said. “St. Therese loved Jesus like I do. She liked to pray like I do also. St. Therese also loved all her family and the people she met and I feel this way also. I admire how she taught others about love.”

Before the pandemic, Carly helped at Peru Primary School.

“I would assist the children during breakfast and helped in the Kindergarten classroom,” she said. “I helped students with reading and writing. This made me very happy. I loved the students and they loved me. I helped pass out the work folders with Mrs. Kathy Backlas.”

Mrs. Backlas was Carly’s Teaching Assistant for eleven years.

Since they couldn’t continue at Peru Primary, Carly and her mother came up with ideas of what they could do for the community. Currently, Carly and her mother volunteer to deliver Meals on Wheels three days a week. Carly helps organize the bags with cold foods, including those for individuals with dietary needs, and her mother organizes the hots foods. They also check and make sure the people they visit are feeling okay. If they are sick, they let the office know which people need extra help. She and her mother really enjoy doing this.

Carly, who leads a full life, noted “I love doing crafts and reading, in my spare time.” She also likes to make potholders on a loom and beaded bracelets. Other favorite pastimes of Carly’s are painting with alcohol ink and acrylics. She enjoys painting bird houses and cards. She is also taking art, exercise, and meditation classes online with a friend. Moreover, she writes in a daily journal about her activities.

“I have been having virtual visits with my friends and family members during the pandemic,” she said.

Carly added that she reads “news articles every day to keep up with what is going on in the world” using an app called Newsomatic.

“When I was in school, Social Studies was challenging for me,” Carly said. “But I worked hard, and it actually went very well. Another challenge is when people I loved had to die. My faith has helped me to remember that the people I love will be in Heaven and experience the joy of belonging with God. Sometimes I feel anxious and use strategies like deep breathing, positive self-talk, and prayer.”

Carly says grace before each meal to “thank the Lord” for her blessings.

“I also like to read the Sacred Space app [which offers meditations on the presence of Jesus] and Living Faith,” Carly said. “I love to read the daily Gospel and then read explanations which help me to better understand the meaning of the Gospel. My mom and I discuss these readings. I feel that it interests me in terms of really understanding.”

Carly showed me a beautiful prayer album that she created, with holy cards.

“Every night I like to read the prayers on the cards that I have from the people I love who have died,” she said. “This helps me to remember them and still feel close to them.”

Carly said the practice also helps her to relax before she goes to sleep. Natalie said that Carly was inspired to do this on her own.

Led by the Holy Spirit, there are many other things that Carly has been moved to do, such as, offering prayers and thinking of others.

“If someone is sick, she’ll say that she prayed for them at Mass or at night in her prayers,” Natalie reflected.

Also, on All Souls Day, their Church put up candles in the Church for all those who died. After Mass, Carly went up by herself, knelt down before the candles, and said a prayer.

Natalie recalled that Carly “always loved, loved, loved Church. It was almost like Carly had a natural connection with Jesus because she always loved going to Church from the time that she was little.” Furthermore, Carly’s Mémére has been an inspiration for her because she has a strong faith. Carly was also encouraged by her parents’ faith to love Church and everyone there.

In the future, Carly would like to continue to volunteer in helping others and find a job where she is working to help other people. Additionally, “I would like to visit with my friends in-person when it is safe to do so.” Carly concluded with some words of wisdom, “I would recommend that people keep life simple and do things that they love to do.Try to see the positive. Pray every day.”

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