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A Young Man with Down Syndrome Finds Religion
Loving Andrew: A Fifty-Two-Year Story of Down Syndrome available on Amazon
Loving Andrew: A Fifty-Two-Year Story of Down Syndrome available on Amazon
A Young Man with Down Syndrome Finds Religion

During a family dinner, Andrew said, with an angelic smile on his face, "Dad, can I have a check for $500?" "What for?" asked his surprised father. "I want to buy a star to hang in the Crystal Cathedral. God needs my help." Pete asked him how he knew that God needed his help. Andrew replied quickly, "Rev. Schuller told me." Although we attended services on special occasions, we did not belong to a church. Lacking a religious focus, Andrew had become enthralled by televangelism and had succumbed to the hypnotic preaching of the Rev. Robert Schuller in his Hour of Power. When Schuller needed a larger church for his Garden Grove, California congregation, he asked the renowned architect, Philip Johnson, to design a building that would "uplift the spirit, and allow the individual to see the heavens above." Johnson’s 1975 solution was a soaring lace-like framework of steel inside walls of mirror-glass. While Andrew was vacationing at our home in California, we took him to a Sunday service in the crystal structure. The service was embellished with organ music and a large choir. As three ministers took their places on a rose-colored marble dais behind banks of potted ferns, two 90 foot-tall glass doors opened inwards and arcs of water shot up from fountains outside. After the service a young preacher conversed with Andrew, reassuring him that God would be always at his side. We asked an usher to show us the stars. He explained that the original crystal stars were never fabricated because they might have fallen onto the heads of the congregation during an earthquake. After the fire department prohibited the use of Mylar stars, parishioners contributed star-shaped plaques set in the walkways around the building. We asked Andrew what he thought of the Cathedral and the service. He said, "It was very special, I really felt God was there." When Andrew left our Chicago home at the age of 21 to become a resident of the Lambs Farm, a residential organization for the developmentally disabled in Libertyville, Illinois, he joined St. Lawrence Episcopal church nearby. The parishioners embraced Andrew and two of his Lambs Farm friends, encouraging them to become involved in church activities. Andrew learned to be an usher, take the collection, ring the bell for Sunday school, and serve as an acolyte. After a few years he became the head acolyte proudly carrying the cross and leading the altar party with a broad smile lighting up his face. Andrew died in 2011 at age 52. At his funeral service, the Rev. Snickenberger spoke of Andrew having a rare gift: “he had absolute clarity about his vocation, first as a Christian and then as an acolyte, as one who serves God at the altar.” Inspired by the charismatic preaching of Rev. Schuller, Andrew discovered religion. As he strove to overcome the challenges of his handicap, religion brought Andrew comfort and support, and helped him become an active member in an Episcopal community of caring Christians.

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Pat McKeon, United States, PA
3/23/2013 5:09:03 PM
What a wonderful story!

Susan Wyllie, United Kingdom,
3/13/2013 8:25:06 PM
Andrew Wyllie was my nephew who I loved dearly. It was such a pleasure when he came to England on numerous visits to see how brilliantly he integrated into our lives and my two daughters always accepted him as their cousin with absolutely no thoughts that he was "different" he was "just Andrew" and much loved. Andrew was very easy to love with his kindness, sense of humour and the highlight of my many visits to the US was the time I spent with Andrew and his caring ways. He will always be in my heart. Romy's book "says it all"

debra Boudreau, United States, CA
3/10/2013 3:46:51 PM
Indeed a great story!

Joan Cleven, United States, CA
3/7/2013 8:00:52 PM
A compelling read that is difficult to put down from the first to the last chapter. Loving Andrew, a Down Syndrome child, is a beautifully written memoire by his mother, Romy Wyllie. The book would have appeal for the casual reader as well as serving as a resource to anyone dealing with a developmentally disabled child. The book chronicles the “dark period” when Down Syndrome children were institutionalized at birth because they were perceived as uneducable and not “normal”. Fortunately, today’s society recognizes the developmentally disabled as productive within their limitations and with opportunities to a variety of programs and services for both the child and the family. This story would have appeal as a T.V. movie special.

Glenda York, United States, KY
3/7/2013 12:06:08 AM
An honest and moving story of one family's experience in raising their Down Syndrome son. Romy Wyllie not only does a good job relating the changing societal perceptions towards the Down Syndrome child over the years, but she gives us a wonderful glimpse inside the heart of her family as they embrace, love, and raise their developmentally disabled son.

Melissa Mack , United States, NY
3/6/2013 8:08:44 PM
Wonderful story.

DSG, United States, CA
3/6/2013 1:45:57 AM
What a lovely story!

Roza Kuppermann, United States, CA
3/5/2013 2:02:39 AM

Denise Emanuel Clemen, United States, CA
3/4/2013 7:42:54 PM
This excerpt from the book "Loving Andrew" is a glimpse into the life of a young man who knew how to follow his passions. A supportive, loving family was the key to his strength.

Franklin D. Dryden, United States, CA
3/4/2013 2:55:18 PM
A well-written book dealing with all aspects of down syndrome children and the challenges of raising them in a world that was not ready. A must read for anyone with a newborn down child.

Gary W. Denning, United States, PA
3/4/2013 1:20:03 PM
The book, Loving Andrew, invites us to walk alongside a family until we too reach the knowledge that the gift Andrew brought as well as the love he received are beyond human comprehension. Touching the face of God is not only for poets and people in high flight, it can be found in the human touch as near as one whose love is pure like Andrew's, but also earned at great cost and self-sacrifice like that of his family. Thanks Romy & Peter.

Robert David Blair, United Kingdom,
3/4/2013 1:07:15 PM
A wonderful story, which gives hope and inspiration to all affected by downs syndrome.

Phillip Gennaro, United States, CA
3/4/2013 11:28:35 AM
How blessed Andrew was , to hear and obey the word given him. The love of his parents and their ability to understand what Andrew was asking is also a blessing. Very gifted.

Margie Lutz, United States, PA
3/4/2013 10:42:21 AM
What a wonderful remembrance to create for your son! God bless!

Fran Lutz, United States, PA
3/4/2013 8:17:21 AM
Thank you Andrew for showing us how simple it can be to live a life of charity and selflessness! Your legacy will live in the hearts you have touched!

Martin Sarkissian, United States, PA
3/4/2013 8:08:33 AM
Good luck!

Diana Wardell, United Kingdom,
3/4/2013 7:46:53 AM
a beautiful and moving book which will many people

Susan Vannelli, United States, PA
3/4/2013 12:01:44 AM
I read "Loving Andrew" from a mother's point of view (what if this had happened to me?) and I give Romy credit for how much the family accomplished together! to raise Andy. I would recommend this book to anyone but especially a family who may expect to raise a child that may be developmentally disabled, as this is a story of hope. "Loving Andrew" provided much insight on how love can truly affect the outcome of a young life.

Brenda Smith, United States, MA
3/3/2013 9:07:16 PM
A great story, as is the book. Of interest to anyone, but also a helpful picture of how one family coped with a child with Downs syndrome

Linda Schweizer, United States, CA
3/3/2013 8:52:22 PM
Romy's love has no boundaries, and her expressive writing no limits. May her story bring peace to her heart and awareness to the world.

Lisa Behm, United States, PA
3/3/2013 6:04:53 PM
I was so grateful that St. Lawrence Episcopal church in Illinois had welcomed Andrew into their family and invited him to serve Christ as an usher, choir member and eventually acolyte. My assumption was that they were doing Andrew a favor. What I was surprised to learn was that his spirit, unconditional love and enthusiasm for religion was a light and inspiration for others in the church, and those considering the church.

Arlette Jassel, United States, MD
3/3/2013 9:56:11 AM
A beautifully written chronicle of one family's heroic and all too human fight and struggle to raise their Down Syndrome child in America. The timely comparisons with resources and health professionals' knowledge in the 1960's and today is telling and so welcome.

CANDIS TAYLOR, United States, CA
3/2/2013 10:33:40 PM
What a fabulous story of Andrew's journey through his spiritual life.

Jacqueline Knowles, United States, CA
3/2/2013 6:02:41 PM
The story Romy tells about Andrew seeing the beauty of Christ in his sister as he lay waiting on his journey into the next life bring shivers down the spine and tears to the eye.

Keegan Behm, United States, MI
3/2/2013 5:25:28 PM
Fantastic book!

Warren Dennis, United States, CA
3/1/2013 7:44:20 PM
A great story about a wonderful loving family.

Janis Haskell, United States, CA
3/1/2013 7:23:35 PM
I loved reading Andrew's journey of faith. My own daughter, who also has Down Syndrome, developed a real sense of God at a very young age. These dear ones are an inspiration to all who come near enough to notice.

Janis Haskell, United States, CA
3/1/2013 7:20:19 PM
I love this story of Andrew's faith. My own daughter who has Down Syndrome developed a close attachment to God at a young age. These dear ones are an inspiration to anyone who comes near enough to notice.

Peter Wyllie, United States, CA
3/1/2013 6:13:58 PM
Andrew's recognition of, acceptance of, and "life" with Church and God was a wonderful feature of his growth and happiness. We could see how it helped him as he finally passed on.

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