A Mother's Call

Laura Kelly Fanucci ’09, and her husband, Franco, are in the throes of life with littles.

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November 9, 2018

By Jessie Bazan ’17

Laura Kelly Fanucci ’09, and her husband, Franco, are in the throes of life with littles.

Dishes from four growing boys adorn their kitchen counters. Socks, loose pieces of homework and more socks scatter the floors.

A symphony of giggles accompanies the family out the door each morning. Laura wouldn’t trade the “sort of chaos” for the world.

“I’ve done more things before 9 a.m. than I ever used to during a day,” Fanucci said. “This is an exhausting time of life, but I’ll miss it when it’s done.”

The couple spends their days chasing sons Sam, 9; Thomas, 7; Joseph, 4; and Benjamin, 1.

Not a day goes by where they don’t wish their twin daughters, Maggie and Abby, could join in the fun. The girls died in February 2016 of Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, a blood disorder that leaves one baby with too much blood and the other with not enough.

“Even though we knew this wasn’t the best-case scenario, the hospital is full of dreamy miracle stories on the wall,” Fanucci explained. “We thought, this is rough, but of course they’re going to make it.”

The surgery to save their lives was unsuccessful. Maggie lived for one day, while Abby lived for two.

Fanucci describes the experience as “gut-wrenching” — and closer to the divine than ever.

“We were right inside the heart of God,” Fanucci said of the graced time holding Abby as she died. Her blog post about the experience is a must-read. (www.motheringspirit.com/2016/03/this-is-the-story-i-have-totell-you/) 

“It’s not cliché to say God works through suffering to bring life out of death,” Fanucci said. “There can be surprising growth that can happen even though it is so, so hard.”

Fanucci was already blogging about parenthood and faith at the time of Maggie and Abby’s deaths. She started the blog Mothering Spirit (www.motheringspirit.com/) after graduate school, when she was pregnant with her first child.

“The world shifted so quickly from a dynamic, engaging theology community at the SOT/Sem to being home with a newborn,” Fanucci recalled. “Writing helped me make sense of this 180 (degree) turn.”

In addition to her blog, which has several thousand followers, Fanucci is the author of numerous books, including Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting (Liturgical Press) and Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey Through Miscarriage (Our Sunday Visitor). 

She describes her calling to write as an opportunity for her gifts meet others’ needs.

“There were other people struggling with the transition into motherhood,” Fanucci said. “Sometimes people would write me and say, ‘You had put into words something that I had felt, but I didn’t know how to name.’

“Connecting with people in the depth of their grief made me feel like I’m not crazy for feeling this way.”

Fanucci hopes her theological work encourages people to ask big, vocational questions about meaning and purpose in their lives.

“The readers and I ask together: ‘Where is God in my life? What does faith have to do with life at home? Is this work of raising children worthy in a culture that doesn’t always value it?’ ” Fanucci said. “God does call each person in ways they might not be able to name. I want to give them language to make sense of it.”

Along with her writing projects and family commitments, Fanucci directs the Communities of Calling Initiative for the Collegeville Institute, a new ecumenical project to help Christians discover and deepen their sense of God’s calling in their lives. She says staying connected to Collegeville gives her hope.

“There are so many polarized corners in our church,” Fanucci said. “Collegeville is a place where people who love the church come to think in deep, informed and creative ways about how to serve God’s people.” 

Jessie Bazan 17’ is the program associate for the Collegeville Institute and outreach coordinator for the Saint John’s Abbey vocations team.

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