Cherie faces fatal illness head on


St. Anthony’s is where it all began

By John Cooper
For The Catholic Messenger

A couple weekends ago, I watched as a woman made her way up Main Street with a walker to St. Anthony’s for the Saturday evening Mass. She had a look on her face of awe, joy and profound happiness, as she checked out our church. I had never seen her before and just thought she was a tourist (who liked historical churches). The next day after the 11:30 a.m. Mass, I saw the same woman walking with her walker through church snapping pictures . . . and still with that look of awe, joy and profound happiness. We started to talk and I was so taken with her story, I asked if she would put her experience down in writing so I could share it with you. Here it is…

My name is Cherie. I grew up in the Quad Cities. I graduated from Moline High School (in Illinois) in 1969 and moved to a place called The Lend Hand Club on Main Street when I was 18. Shortly after moving to Davenport, I started attending St. Anthony’s Church and I took Catholic instruction classes with Father James Grubb. I was so happy the day Fr. Grubb presented our class to the parish. I had wanted to convert to the faith for a while and that dream finally had come true. I worked in a nearby nursing home for a few years and attended daily Mass, then I left Davenport to attend college in Iowa City. After that, I moved to South Florida where God gave me the opportunity to work over 30 years in ministry to people with Autism and intellectual disabilities and to make vows as a Consecrated Virgin in 1999.

Cherie Cashen takes a selfie while visiting St. Anthony Church in Davenport during a recent visit.

In 2017, I was diagnosed with an illness called Multiple System Atrophy-C. It’s a rare form of Parkinson’s that progresses rapidly and is fatal. I had to retire. I need a walker and depend on a feeding tube for all nutrition. I get out to daily Mass but I spend the rest of the day at home. This past year, I longed to come home to the Quad Cities and attend Mass at St. Anthony’s, where my walk of faith began. So, feeding tube and all, I packed up and flew to the Quad Cities for the weekend.

I attended the 5 p.m. Mass on 9-22-18. The hotel on 2nd and Main offered to give me a ride, but I said no. I want to walk up Main Street to church, as I had done so many times in the early 70s. Hobbling happily along, I managed the 2 blocks and when I got to 4th Street and saw the church sign for the first time in nearly 50 years, I became so overcome with joy, I had to sit down on my walker for several minutes before I could cross the street and come inside. It was such a blessing to hear the Mass, and receive holy Communion in the place I joined the Catholic community.

I have enjoyed many years of friendship with God and no matter what we go through in this life, I know God is kind, faithful and truly with us. I’m at peace with being ill. I’m grateful to be part of the church, to be a Consecrated Virgin and to call Davenport and the Quad Cities …home. St. Anthony’s Parish is part of my heart and spiritual journey and it’s a comfort to be reconnected again. Blessings on you and your ministries.

Let’s pray for Cherie!

(John Cooper is the pastoral associate at St. Anthony Parish in Davenport.)

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on