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Infant's brief life inspires Orange home will aid unwed mothers
Priest blesses home for unwed mothers in Orange, which was inspired by death of Spotsylvania couple's child

Date published: 9/12/2006

Paul Stefan James lived for only one hour after his birth last December, but his brief time on earth has inspired hope for a brighter future for other infants in the area.

The Paul Stefan Home for Unwed Mothers in Orange County will offer pregnant women "the spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological support and nourishment necessary for their further growth and development," according to the home's mission statement.

Members of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Spotsylvania County renovated and furnished the house on Everona Road, and many of them came together Sunday afternoon as the Rev. Stefan Starzynski blessed the home.

"The people and priests of St. Patrick are wonderful," said church member Fred Malucci of Lake of the Woods. "When something needs to get done, it gets done."

Paul Stefan was born and died on Dec. 13, 2005. The son of developer Randy James of Spotsylvania County and his wife, Evie, the child was named in honor of the Revs. Paul Scalia and Starzynski, St. Patrick's former and present priests.

The baby had been diagnosed with diaphragmatic hernia before birth and doctors told the Jameses that because of the condition (which caused the internal organs to be pushed into the upper part of the body), his lungs wouldn't develop, his heart would fail and he could not survive. They recommended a late-term abortion.

The Jameses chose to put the matter into God's hands and turned to the members of their church. Through prayer and networking, the St. Patrick congregation supported the family through the gestation, birth, one-hour life and death of Paul Stefan.

After their baby's death, James and his wife established the nonprofit Paul Stefan Foundation as a vehicle to support pregnant women and provide an option to abortion.

Kathleen Wilson, a member of St. Mary Catholic Church in Fredericksburg and now first vice president of the foundation, envisioned a home for unwed mothers. A St. Patrick's parishioner donated two houses and 50 acres in rural Orange County. An opening date for the home has not been set.

A second house on the property also will be renovated and will offer housing and support to the new mothers and their babies. The houses will be supervised by professional staff and assisted by church volunteers.

To reach ROBIN KNEPPER:540/972-5701
Email: rknepper@earthlink.net