The scientific “advancements” in contraception, chemical abortion and in vitro fertilization have conditioned modern society to view children as commodities—possessions to be acquired and discarded at a whim. This is the story of a couple who accepted their infertility not as a misfortune, but as an opportunity to do something great for God and his most precious gift of life. Rather than pursue immoral medical alternatives, John and Donna Kurtz instead opened their home to broken-hearted children, and through them God has created one of the most amazing families you will ever encounter.
John and Donna Kurtz adopted their first child in the early 1980s. Rosa was a one-year-old baby living in an orphanage in Mexico and scheduled for heart surgery. Two years later they adopted Natalie, a newborn placed for adoption by a woman in Guatemala. Donna soon realized that God wanted her to care for children that she and John refer to as “broken-hearted”—those with hereditary, drug-induced, or abuse-inflicted obstacles that so many neglected children face today.
The Kurtzes signed up to be foster parents for the state of Pennsylvania, and immediately were notified of a baby born to an emotionally unstable woman who had been pressured to abort. John and Donna adopted the baby and named him “David.” Soon after David came Maria Elena, a 12-year-old child from a Mexican orphanage. The Kurtzes raised the needed $12,000 to adopt Maria Elena. By 1993 the family comprised six, including John and Donna. They decided that they could easily handle adopting eight children total. Ten years later, the Kurtzes are a tightly knit family with 16 children and have no plans to stop adopting.
It hasn’t always been easy. John had to quit his business as a contractor and rely on donations through his Saint Joseph’s House. At one time the family lived in a 27-room convent in a an unfavorable neighborhood. The daily struggle of raising a large family is sometimes enhanced by the emotional and physical struggle that each child endures. No, it hasn’t always been easy, but it is constantly rewarding.
Many of our children came to us from desperate situations. We often say that these are the ones aborted after they were born. Welfare agencies use foster care as a ‘remedy’ for such children. Even our church runs agencies, which often accept government funds and are forced to offer foster care void of a faith perspective. That is NOT what the Lord desires. The Christian faithful must take back their responsibility to care for the little and the elderly. We’ve allowed the government to do our job. Jesus needs to be brought back into the care of children and all people. —John Kurtz
The Kurtz family possesses unabashed optimism. It’s reminiscent of an old saying, “My barn having burnt to the ground, now I can see the moon.” When living in the convent, they were thrilled with the use of the chapel and the convenience of a classroom with a chalkboard. And despite their restricted time outside due to the conditions of the neighborhood, the Kurtz family saw this as an opportunity to remain close as a family.
Their most recent newsletter dedicates a paragraph to each child as he or she lists their recent accomplishments and joys in life. Scrolling over the content, one finds it hard to believe that these children were ever considered neglected or abused. They are prolific in naming what they are thankful for, and as in any large family, it varies per child: for 11-year-old David it’s the recent discovery of toads and turtles on their new property; for Peter, nine, it’s altar serving; for Maggie, six, it’s her new sister Galina, because she comes from Russia, which is close to her native Estonia; and for Galina, 10, she likes America because here we have Jesus and in Russia she didn’t have Jesus. Throughout each list, without exception, the children mention their family and siblings and at the end, without exception, they refer to their love of their faith and prayer.
As John Kurtz said, “we began attending daily Mass as a family many years ago. We visit the Lord in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament; go to confession regularly as a family, pray the Rosary daily as a family. As a result, the children are healing. We are all healing. We are not holy. We are desperate for the Lord. We are not special. We know we can do no good thing on our own. We need Jesus. All people are broken before the Lord and need Him to restore their souls. Our children are learning the life habits they will need to become faithful Christians. When they are feeling stress, they turn to prayer. They learn to forgive, develop patience and charity through the power of the Holy Spirit They don’t need television, computer games, or extravagant presents. They need Jesus. All God’s children, big and small, need Jesus.”
After a century riddled with pro-death agenda, contraception, abortion, euthanasia and infanticide, we are a culture of tired and lost people. Our innocence has been compromised and our children, even the most protected, have been touched by this Culture of Death. There are few who would see children such as the Kurtzes’ and recognize immediately their innate right to not only the love and nourishment of a family, but the strength and joy of Christ and His Church. Even fewer would accept this obligation as a gift and an opportunity to raise up saints.
As Christians, we need to promote a ‘Gospel of Life’ lifestyle. We need to actively eliminate compromise in ourselves and in our families. If it weren’t for our children, I would have never known how selfish and egotistical I was. These ‘pure ones’ flush my sin out in the open so I can’t hide from it any longer. Of course, that is why pro-death folks often don’t want to look at preborn or postborn children. The face of Christ stares back at them and subconsciously convicts them of their sins. —John Kurtz
Thirty years after Roe v. Wade, the Kurtzes are an example of the type of patience and forbearance that is needed in the pro-life movement. Their acceptance of God’s will remains undaunted as they face each obstacle with joy, humility and gratitude for the opportunity to serve God to their fullest and the knowledge that as long as they adhere to His will, they will succeed in His time.
John and Donna Kurtz founded and run Saint Joseph’s Home in Pennsylvania, a 501c3 charitable nonprofit with the mission statement to “care for human life from conception to natural death.” To contact John and Donna, e-mail them at [email protected] or visit their web site: www.saintjosephhouse.com.
Saint Joseph’s House
Saint Joseph’s House was formed to assist the Kurtz family to better serve the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of their present children and those still to come.
The apostolate was also formed to advance the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church, by:
- Applying the teachings of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, The Gospel of Life, to care for human life from conception to natural death.
- Responding to Pope John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization,” to hasten the coming of the “Culture of Life” and “Civilization of Love”.
Saint Joseph’s House applies “Gospel of Life” teachings and fosters a“Culture of Life” through the service of charity to, including sanctuary and a hospice for, the weak and defenseless of our society, particularly widows and orphans, children and families in crisis situations.