Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

September 26, 2014

Expecting Shane

Jenna and Dan Haley of Philadelphia learned their unborn son, Shane, had anencephaly, a condition which means that he would be born without parts of his brain and skull and that he would die shortly after birth. Knowing that they would have only a short period of time with their son, they created a “bucket list” for Shane of places and activities that they loved and wanted to share with their son. They went to zoos and aquariums, key spots in New York City, beaches in New Jersey and Delaware, Philadelphia Phillies and Philadelphia Flyers games, the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD, two churches in Philadelphia, a concert, additional baseball games, parks, and the Franklin Institute in their own city.

They took many photos of the two of them during this process, many of them holding Jenna’s pregnant belly.

Ask your students to imagine and create statements that describe Jenna and Dan’s beliefs about the gift of life. Create a list on the board of student observations about the Haley’s values. They may include statements like this:

  • They value unborn Shane as much as a child outside the womb.
  • They value their time with Shane as a gift.
  • They celebrate Jenna’s pregnancy and enjoy hearing their son’s heartbeat and little kicking feet all the more.
  • They know that Shane has a soul and will return to God who created him.
  • They focus on Shane rather than simply on themselves.

Then create a second column next to the first one and ask students to take each statement and rephrase it with an opposing point of view.  The first opposing statement might read, “Shane’s anencephaly is an insurmountable problem.”

Ask students follow-up questions:

  • Which types of views do you witness most in society today?
  • How might society change if more people viewed each person as the Haleys view Shane?
  • What impact does this story have on you? How might Jenna and Dan’s choices challenge how some people think?

You may want to close this discussion by mentioning that almost 220,000 people are following this couple’s story on Facebook. Their page is “Prayers for Shane.” Shane is due to be born on October 12, 2014. The students can continue following the story here.

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