Omar Binno's struggle with blindness and depression nearly led him to despair; today, he helps others see with the eyes of faith
(0:01) Omar Binno, a parishioner at Holy Cross Chaldean Church in Farmington Hills, discusses his love for J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, including how the epic tales of heroism and struggle helped him overcome a difficult childhood, including his father’s death and his own struggle with blindness.
(3:33) A jazz musician and keyboardist at his parish, Omar talks about his hobbies growing up, including weightlifting, video games and music — the latter a hobby that would sustain him when his eyesight began to fail him in his mid-20s.
(5:10) When Omar was a toddler, his father was killed in a gas station convenience store. Omar discusses the impact the tragedy had on his mother and siblings, and his mother’s subsequent marriage to Omar’s uncle, who stepped in to care for his deceased brother’s family, a common practice in Chaldean culture.
(6:35) Omar talks about the devastation of losing his eyesight as a young man, including the spiritual toll the degenerative disease took on his faith. He began to question everything, including God, the Church and the beliefs he’d taken for granted.
(9:21) Through his love for Tolkien, Omar discovered the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux, whose own struggles served as a template for Omar’s faith journey. Recovering his faith, Omar set out help others beset by tragedy discover God’s love through a new nonprofit, Healing Arts of the Little Flower.
(11:53) Omar discusses how depression can impact those with physical disabilities, and how the arts — including music, nature and creativity — can provide a healing sense of purpose.
(13:09) Omar discusses the idea with his bishop, who supports Omar’s vision for the nonprofit. The bishop offered the use of Our Lady of the Fields Camp in Brighton, which offers hiking trails, lakes, trees and a serene setting perfect for a healing ministry.
(14:24) Omar outlines the goals and vision behind Healing Arts of the Little Flower — HALF, for short — including statistics that show the benefit of music and art therapy in reducing anxiety and depression, especially for those with disabilities.
(17:46) Like Tolkien’s epic or C.S. Lewis, Omar talks about seeing through the eyes of faith.
Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Leah Butalid; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn
This episode of Detroit Stories is brought to you by Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan Adult Day Care Centers – providing your loved ones with Christ-centered daycare and caregivers the break they deserve. Visit ccsem.org for more information.
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