February 11, 2010

USA: faith has sustained 110-year-old through life’s challenges

. MILAN, Indiana / The Pilot / CNS / February 11, 2010 By Mary Ann Wyand Emelie Weil, a 110-year-old parishioner at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Milan, has lived in three centuries, during 10 papacies and 20 U.S. presidencies. Throughout 11 decades, Weil said, her Catholic faith has sustained her. Considered a supercentenarian, she even survived a broken neck from a fall down a stairway 12 years ago. Now she uses a wheelchair and has a hard time hearing, but is still astute. One Internet source notes that worldwide there are as many as 300 people age 110 and older out of 6.7 billion people, but the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles maintains an international list of only 75 such supercentenarians. For the past 10 years, Weil has lived with Bob and Marilyn Weil, her son and daughter-in-law, on their cattle farm near Milan, the home of the 1954 state high school basketball champions made famous by the movie "Hoosiers." "I have a wonderful family," she told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. Weil still prays from her well-worn prayer book each day and says the rosary. Born Emelie Seissiger on Nov. 20, 1899, in northern Kentucky, she was 21 and an accomplished pianist when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1920, giving women the right to vote. She met her future husband, Stephen Weil, a year later. After completing nursing school, Weil worked as a registered nurse in Chicago, New York and Cincinnati. In 1932, she and Stephen were married. Her husband died 11 years later of pneumonia, leaving her at age 43 with seven children to raise by herself on a 15-acre farm near Cincinnati. The oldest child, Mary, was 10 years old at the time and the youngest, Rita, was only 2 months old. Weil returned to nursing when Rita was in high school, and she encouraged all of her children to go to college. Although it's been 67 years since her husband's death, Weil said she misses him more than ever and is looking forward to seeing him again in heaven. Looking back at her long and healthy life, Weil said she loved raising her children. Now she enjoys spending time with her 25 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren. During her lengthy retirement, Weil has kept busy painting colorful pictures of flowers, birds and other nature scenes, which her family members have preserved in a self-published book. She said her favorite pope of the 10 during her lifetime is Pope Pius XII. Her favorite president from her 110 years is Ronald Reagan. [rc] To continue reading, click here Copyright © 2006-2007 Archdiocese of Boston