A Place for Corey


When our son, Corey, was born 23 years ago, he was gravely ill with a blood disorder. Immediately we could also see that he did not resemble our other children. His ears were small and low-set and there was a curious fold of skin at the back of his neck. Trisomy 21 was the diagnosis, Down Syndrome, an extra chromosome.

We were stunned, but instinctively knew that our son was a whole person inside an imperfect body. Down deep in our hearts we also knew that God had been preparing us for this special child. Yet still we bargained with God: we’ll do the everyday details, but the “big Picture” of this child’s life is yours.

With our other children, we had hopes and dreams and expectations, but with Corey the slate seemed blank.

At age 5, Corey slipped out of our pew at Mass on Easter morning and joined a family several rows behind. Before we knew it he had received Holy Communion and was back with us beaming with joy, “I have Jesus in me,” he said, somehow grasping the depth of the mystery of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist.

At age 12, Corey was diagnosed with lymphoma. He told us after Mass one Sunday that the ‘lady in black and white’ on the altar had told him that he would be ‘OK.’ That was Divine Mercy Sunday, the day that Blessed Sister Faustina was canonized. The following Wednesday an oncologist at Mary Hitchcock Hospital confirmed that there were no signs of illness.

In the next 10 years, Corey would so frequently ask, “When will God show me my place?” “Is today the day?” ‘I want to serve God, I want to belong’ was his constant mantra.

And then one day, an email arrived, a response to a vocation placement application, an invitation to: ‘Come and See.’ Corey traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana to visit the Franciscan Brothers Minor. On January 3, 2012, he entered the Order receiving his Franciscan tunic and postulant cross.

“Now I can serve, now I belong. God has found my place.”

Chuck and Alice Porembski are parents of seven children and grandparents of nine. They live in Manchester, NH.