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Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

Pint-Sized Prophets

Dr. Chuck Dietzen grew up wanting to be St. Francis of Assisi. In a way, he achieved his goal because “where there is despair,” he brings “hope” – and “where there is darkness,” he brings “light.” At the same time, he shuns any self-praise because he believes this is something that all of us can do. That message is clear in his powerful memoir “Pint-Sized Prophets: Inspirational Moments That Taught Me We Are All Born to Be Healers.”

As a child, Dietzen and his siblings were exposed to children in need because their parents took in approximately 150 foster children over 20 years. They even adopted two of them: Vince and Connie. It was the 1970’s, and Vince suffered from hemophilia. When Dietzen’s dad discussed the possible adoption with the family, he explained, “It may take every bit of money I make to keep him alive.” Everyone – even the kids – agreed that whatever sacrifices may be called for, it would be worth it to save Vince and give him a good home.

It might seem unusual for the selflessness in a family to run so deep, but this family was Catholic. And as Dietzen told me during a “Christopher Closeup” interview, “My parents didn’t preach giving and caring for others. They demonstrated it on a regular basis…Children learn what they live. Thankfully, my parents had a great home for us to practice what we were learning on Sunday.”

The Catholic faith is also what exposed Dietzen to St. Francis and his love of animals. The saint made him want to be a veterinarian, though that dream eventually transformed into him pursuing a medical career in pediatrics. Dietzen’s background in sports led him to physical rehabilitation as a specialty, working with kids who are disabled. His mission expanded even more in 1997 after an encounter with Mother Teresa during a trip to India. From her, he learned, “Be ordinary, but have an extraordinary mission.”

That experience prompted Dietzen to ask himself, “Why did God put me here?” The answer he came up with was, “I’m here to save every child I can, do what I can to relieve suffering. But the other part of that is revealing to others that we weren’t all born to be doctors and nurses, but we were all born to be healers.”

Soon after, Diezten founded Timmy Global Health, named after his brother who died a few days after birth. The group supports and encourages high school and college students, making them part of the mission to bring healthcare to those in need around the world.

Dietzen remains focused on the connections he forms with his patients, who, as his book title states, are “Pint-Sized Prophets.” He concludes, “I think the beauty of this work is when you allow yourself to get close enough to these kids, your heart will be broken and, at the same time, healed, if you actually allow that to happen. What you discover is the spiritual part of this life. Body image, physical ability disappears. The connection is so remarkable when you’re around these gurus. They have the most important mission of all of us. They’re not the fastest, they don’t throw the hardest balls. They’re not incredible mathematicians or movie stars. What they are though, they are incredible souls who were sent here to make us better, to make us more compassionate, to make us more kind, to make us more human.”

 

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, FINDING THE COURAGE WITHIN, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org