Parish comes to support of family
After high school senior suffers stroke, parish steps in to help
By Amanda Lauer
|ROAD TO RECOVERY: Lindsey Janikowski, a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Neenah, is recovering from a stroke. She practices on a limited basis with her Neenah High School volleyball team. (Rick Evans photo)
NEENAH -- When tragedy strikes, it's comforting to have your parish standing behind you. Colleen and Dennis Janikowski of Menasha, members of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Neenah, learned this lesson following a recent family ordeal.
On Aug. 22, their daughter Lindsey, a varsity volleyball player for Neenah High School, suffered a stroke while playing volleyball at Appleton North High School. As soon as the staff of St. Margaret Mary learned of her hospitalization, they came to the aid of Lindsey and her family.
"It's very customary for hospitals to call parishes when a parishioner is in the hospital, if the parishioner wants that call made," said Joan Bartman, pastoral associate at St. Margaret Mary. "We have a wonderful parish team. Because Lindsey had been involved in religious education and youth ministry, people on our staff in that department were reaching out to her and her family and friends."
Colleen Janikowski, Lindsey's mother, recalled the first four days after Lindsey was admitted to the critical care unit of Theda Clark Medical Center. "Joan Bartman, Marcie Howard, who works in the religious education office, and Sr. Diane Baumann (director of religious education) were there almost right away," she said. "Fr. Mike Ingold (pastor) was out of town but we saw him as soon as he got back."
Parish nurse Sheila Scanlon reached out to Lindsey's family at home by arranging meal support through fellow parishioners.
"While visiting in the hospital already the first and second day, we were aware that there were spiritual needs for the family and for the many high school friends because of the shock of this situation," recalled Bartman. "We suggested and offered to have a communal prayer service in the parish church for Lindsey. The family immediately appreciated and responded favorably to that."
The parish team helped plan and participated in the prayer service, which was held Aug. 30. Students Katie Howard, Mandy Stanley and Ali Bernards planned the middle section of the
service titled, "A Message of Love and Encouragement for Lindsey."
"During that time they sang four different songs, read some Bible verses that they had chosen and also had one of the students speak," recalled Bartman. Sr. Therese Reynolds and Mark Griffin led the music. Marcie Howard helped prepare materials that were passed out before the event and Dennis Howard taped the service for Lindsey to watch.
Religious formation coordinator Cindy Kyles-Werth said the response of people attending the prayer service was overwhelming.
"Everybody embraced Lindsey and her family in prayer," she said. "There were people from all walks of life at St. Margaret Mary for this prayer service. It was wonderful to see the unity because it was a Christian, non-denominational prayer service. We had people from all over Neenah coming. The parents of Lindsey and her grandmother and all of her friends were just awed by the positive response of the support system."
Support from the community for her daughter has been amazing, said Janikowski. Lindsey received hundreds of cards wishing her well, and while at Theda Clark she had many visitors,
including members of her volleyball and soccer team, friends from church and school, and parents of friends.
Janikowski said she was touched by the love and support of the staff of St. Margaret Mary. She recalls one particular incident at Theda Clark. "Sr. Diane brought Lindsey's confirmation booklet that she worked on this year. She was just confirmed this spring. She said 'I just wanted to show you a picture that Lindsey had in here.' It was two stick people. It was Lindsey and God with their arms wrapped around each other. Sr. Diane said 'God's got his arms wrapped around her now' and I knew he did," recalled Janikowski.
The prayer service, which Lindsey could not attend, "was beautiful. It was just amazing. The praying was awesome. There were a lot of tears," she added.
After a week and a half at Theda Clark, Lindsey was transferred to UW-Madison Hospital for two weeks of intense physical therapy. She came home on Sept. 13. The first week of October she was released by her doctor to start playing volleyball again.
"She's making great strides. The therapists and the doctors are very pleased with her progress," said Janikowski. "We're praying for a full recovery and being young and strong and
healthy and all kinds of prayers still coming in, I'm sure she's going to be fine. I think all those prayers helped move her along so fast."
Janikowski has a message for everyone who came to her family's side. "Thank you and keep praying. We know it works. The power of prayer is awesome."