The Voice of Ability Series

Knightley - Catholic faith has been source of comfort for woman who has had life-long challenges

By Karrie Knightley
I am 50 years old. I was born prematurely which resulted in cerebral palsy. I have walked with crutches my entire life.
My Catholic faith has been my greatest source of comfort and strength and guides me in my daily life. My family and friends surround me with love, take such loving and good care of me, and are my greatest gift and blessing from God. I could not last a day without them.
I was the first physically disabled person to attend Catholic schools. I went to Blessed Sacrament from first through fifth grades. I was taught by Bishop Gerber and many other loving nuns and teachers. When I was in first and second grade I had to have surgery on my legs and my knees and Sister Anthony Marie came to my home and tutored me. She became a member of my family.
When I reached the seventh grade all of my classes were upstairs on the second floor. I could not walk up the stairs with my crutches. The Catholic schools were not handicapped accessible in the 1970s and early 1980s when I attended the Catholic schools. There were no elevators.
I transferred to Magdalen for seventh and eighth grades because the entire school was all one level and I did not have to climb any stairs. All of my teachers in grade school and high school were loving and kind to me. They instilled the importance of the Catholic faith, morality and values and provided me an outstanding education. Candace Buser was my teacher at Magdalen and her love and support has impacted my life.
I went to high school at Kapaun Mount Carmel. I was allowed to leave each of my classes a little early so that I could walk to my next class. They arranged my schedule so that the least number of my classes possible were upstairs.
All of the science classes had labs and they were all located on the second floor. Wonderful, loving, thoughtful, handsome guys volunteered to carry me up the stairs so that I could get to all of my classes. I loved it! During the summer of that year I went to physical therapy so that I could learn how to walk up and down the stairs with my crutches.
The people who greatly loved, supported and influenced me were Father Martin Whealen, Pat Raglin, and Renee LaFever. Father Whealen was my spiritual guide. He taught me the meaning and importance of the Catholic faith, morality, and values. I have used his teachings every day and my faith has become even stronger as I have faced difficulties in my life.
Father told me that when I would love, the love in my life would always be real and true because I knew and understood what real love was. Renee LaFever and Pat Raglin made learning fun and were a joy to be with. Pat Raglin is one of my most loving and closest friends. I was the recipient of the first Bishop’s Crest Award which signified that I live my life devoted to the Catholic faith. That was the greatest honor I have ever received.
I do office work at my family’s oil company and at the Wichita Country Club. I do believe that my life belongs to God, that I must trust Jesus, that I must love and serve others and Christ each day, and that I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The happiness, joy and love in my life and my success is because of God, my faith and the undying and constant love and support from my family and friends. Without all of this I can do nothing!

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