Last Saturday, April 29, 2017, Mrs. Jerome Lejeune, Thierry de la Villejegu, and I were invited to the University of Notre Dame to receive the Evangelium Vitae Medal on behalf of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation.
We want to share highlights of this amazing journey with you, as well as report on some of the headlines surrounding this incredible event. Without further ado, here are some quotes and online articles surrounding this amazing opportunity to recognize the work and legacy of Dr. Jerome Lejeune:
Highlights from Medal Ceremony Speech Given by CEC Director Carter Snead
“The quality of a civilization can be measured by the respect it has for its weakest members. There is no other criterion.”
With these words, Jerome Lejeune captures the heart of Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae. “Man has been given a sublime dignity,” John Paul writes, “based on the int imate bond which unites him to his Creator: in man there shines forth a reflection of God himself” (EV 34). Professor Lejeune’s great genius was the piercing quality of his vision, which saw in the weakest members of society nothing less than the reflection of the Creator.
For persons with Down syndrome and other genetic disabilities, this vision was, quite simply, transformative. Where once they were shunned, hidden away, and disinherited by a society that did not understand them, Lejeune’s discovery in 1958 of an extra chromosome on the twenty-first pair enabled this humble French doctor to bring his patients—his “little ones,” as he called them—into the light. Lejeune threw himself into caring for them, searching for treatments, and helping parents to see their beautiful and unique children with eyes of love…
Today, Professor Lejeune’s saintly spirit lives on in the work of his family and friends at the worldwide Jerome Lejeune Foundation. Since 1996, the Foundation has dedicated itself to carrying on Lejeune’s commitment to research, care, and advocacy on behalf of persons with genetic intellectual disabilities. In a society where 90 percent of children diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome are aborted— where even to show in the media a child with Down syndrome appearing happy and content can be labeled “inappropriate”—the Jerome Lejeune Foundation continues to defend the “sublime dignity” of all God’s children, born and unborn…
Perhaps most importantly, the Jerome Lejeune Foundation continues to speak out on behalf of society’s disinherited via public advocacy that helps the world to see with the eyes of Professor Lejeune, to love with his radical hospitality, to appreciate the beauty in our differences—and above all, to recognize in each unique individual the reflection of the Creator, which unites us all with equal dignity.