Cassie Strong

I was trying to think of what I should write for my blog this week, and no matter what I started to think about, my thoughts always drifted back to Cassie.  Cassie is my little twelve-year-old cousin (My cousin Stacey’s little girl) who will be undergoing a kidney transplant at the very same moment this blog will be posted this Thursday morning.  Her father, Ray, will be her kidney donor. 

In the midst of what this family is going through, I keep thinking about what a crappy week I’m having.  Am I allowed to say crappy here? I guess I’ll find out when I see the edits.   I won’t bog you down with all the details, but just picture one of those weeks where you feel like you’re living out the dream where you’re running towards a door that just keeps drifting further and further away, no matter how fast you run.  I just can’t seem to catch up this week, and my efforts seem frivolous and unrecognized.  Yeah, that’s right, it’s an “I’m feeling sorry for myself” kind of week.  

Throughout all my deep sighs and rolling eyes, my mind drifts to my cousin Stacey, and how her heart must be breaking for her little girl, and undoubtedly her husband Ray.   Do you know what Stacey posted on her Facebook wall the day before she hands her little girl and husband over into the care of surgeons and ultimately the will of God?  Like most other days, she posted a scripture verse; “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11. 

Stacey, much like all the many days since this past Thanksgiving when Cassie suddenly went into kidney failure, turned her heart and mind to God.  This past Sunday, my cousin and our family gathered for the 12 o’clock Mass at St. Rose in Perrysburg.  There, Father Jeff called Cassie and her parents up to pray over them and anoint her before the surgery, as a parish family. 

That same day at Mass, we read in the gospel that Jesus presented a difficult reality that many of his followers found hard to believe.  In John 6: 51-58 we learn that Jesus in the Eucharist, quite literally, gives us his flesh and blood so that we might have life within us.  This scripture is a tough one for many people who find it difficult to believe that God would expect us to take into our bodies his very flesh to give us life.  Is it really so hard to believe that a father would love their child so much that they would take their own flesh and give it to their child in order to give them life? 

When I glanced down the pew during the homily that day, I saw “Coach Ray” holding his little girl’s hand, ready to give her a piece of his own body so that she could live.  Nothing could bond a father and daughter together more, and nothing could be truer than the fact that our heavenly father did the same for us.  Any father would do the same for their child.  Ray’s gift for Cassie is a radiation of the love and sacrifice God the Father has for us all.  The thought of Christ’s sacrifice and love should capture our thoughts at random moments throughout the day, just like the thought of Ray’s gift to Cassie captured my thoughts this week.  The love of Christ, and what he gives us every time at Mass in the Eucharist, through his loving sacrifice, should empty our hearts and minds of self-pity and anxiety and fill us with grateful hearts. 

This week, I’m grateful for the radiating love of Christ through all fathers, like Ray.  This week, I will think of Cassie and I will be #CassieStrong.  Please join me in praying for the Paige family on this day, and the days ahead of them.  Please join me in praying that all fathers would realize they radiate the love and fatherhood of God.    

To learn more about Cassie’s story and to learn how you can help, visit

Monica Martinez