The Beauty and Dignity of Human Life: A Tale of Two Families

Thanks to Music Director Pat Love for today’s awesome post on the the beauty of life, the journeys of some of our Height families, and the upcoming March for Life which our students will attend on January 23!

As we approach the annual March for Life in the Nations Capitol, Heights alumnus. Pat Kilner and his wife Elena are living a beautiful example of what it means to accept, protect and love human life at all stages.  John Paul Kilner, born into the world on December 6, 2011, the fifth child in a strong, loving family began his life as a struggle.  After difficulty at birth, he was transferred to the NICU at Children’s Hospital in D.C. and it soon became clear that John Paul suffers from a rare motor neuron disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  The disease, which affects the proximal muscles of the body, makes it very difficult for John Paul to move his trunk and limbs, lift his head, swallow or cough and makes it difficult for him to breathe.

Just down the street from Pat and Elena’s first home in Silver Spring, MD, Cubby and Dan Lahood, the parents of Heights Alum Joseph Lahood (Class of 2002), are no strangers to the questions that arise when parents lovingly accept human life – in every form – as a gift from God.  Cubby started St. Joseph’s house, a non-profit dedicated to serving school-aged children with multiple and severe disabilities in 1983.  Five years later, when the Lahoods were expecting their second child, they learned the baby had medical complications that were so extensive he likely would not live.  Shortly after baby Francis’s birth and death, Dan decided to leave his job in the health care industry and stay home with Cubby.  They realized that their son, had he lived, could have been just like the precious children whom they were caring for each day.

We all know the school’s motto, “crescite” from the latin, “to grow.”  Experience shows us that when we encounter difficulties, when we’re asked to go to the edges of our comfort zone and then asked to keep going, we grow.  And in growing, we learn to love.  An optimistic attitude towards life’s challenges is the mark of a true Heights man, without it, our beloved “crescite” is nothing more than an antiquated word.

In a world in which comfort has become the highest attainable good, many will look down on our students as they brave sub-zero temperatures to stand for the right to life at the national March for Life on January 23rd.   Many will question why a family who already works to love four children would lovingly accept a 5th with disabilities for as long as he is given life by God.  Many will ponder even further why Cubby and Dan would spend their life seeking out hardship by helping the severely disabled.

And yet, it seems to me that those who have the greatest crosses in life also seem to have the greatest joy!  Who loves more deeply than the one who has experienced hurt, who has recognized his call in the cheerful eyes of human need?

Blessed JPII, to whom so many of us have been praying for young John Paul was no stranger to life issues.  His final days are a living treatise on the dignity of human life in all stages.  Young Kilner’s namesake reminds us, in Evangelium Vitae, “Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree.”

Full Circle
A few weeks before John Paul was born, Cubby Lahood asked me if some Heights Faculty members would sing for a St. Joseph’s House fundraiser.  It seems ironic, to say the least, that among those that I chose, former Spanish teacher, Pat Kilner, accepted.  We began rehearsals before John Paul was born.

On January 21st, Mr. Kilner, Mr. Love, Mr. Gleason, Mr. Cox and Dr. Strother will sing A’Capella music to open up for Sixtus, an A’Capella group comprised of seminarians who met Dan and Cubby Lahood at The Right to Life March a number of years ago.  Crooked Hat Jazz (Heights students) will open the night of Cocktails at 7:00pm.  All proceeds benefit, St. Joseph’s House (2012_SJH Fundraiser Flyer_8.5x14_Final Email).

About only@theheights

A blog of The Heights School, an independent day school for boys, grades 3 through 12, in Potomac, MD. For more information, please visit our website: Crescite!
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