Disability Inclusion Team
The mission of the team is to increase awareness and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in parishes across the diocese by opening doors, opening minds and opening hearts. We open doors through universal access to church spaces. We open minds through the awareness of what people with disabilities need to feel belonging and grow in faith. We open hearts by demonstrating that all people have diverse dis-ABLILITIES and everyone has a place in the ministry and mission of the church.
Open Doors... Open Minds... Open Hearts...
These words from the first paragraph of the 1978 United States Catholic Bishops Pastoral Statement on People with Disabilities, commissions us:
“The same Jesus who heard the cry for recognition from the people with disabilities of Judea and Samaria, 2,000 years ago calls us, his followers, to embrace our responsibility to our own disabled brothers and sisters in the United States, The Catholic Church pursues its mission by furthering the spiritual, intellectual, moral and physical development of the people it serves. We call upon people of good will to examine their attitudes toward their brothers and sisters with disabilities and promote their well-being, acting with a sense of justice and the compassion that the Lord so clearly desires. Further, realizing the unique gifts individuals with disabilities have to offer the Church, we wish to address the need for their integration into the Christian community and their fuller participation in its life.”
Autism Awareness Month is April!
This is a great chance for outreach and advocacy!
Are you thinking that you do not have anyone in the parish with autism? Think again. At least one in every 80 children born in the United States has a form of autism. Many more have conditions in the Autism Spectrum like Asberger's Syndrome that go undiagnosed for years. This means that almost every parish has at least one family dealing with autism. Dozens of parishes have several families dealing with autism each and every day.
According to the Autism Society the cost for a family can be upwards of $3 million for each person with autism over their lifetime. This "quiet" disease is an emotional, financial and spiritual challenge for the best of parents. Why not extend a gesture of compassion to families who have children with autism?
Outreach and advocacy for these families can be as easy as:
1. The pastor and staff might simply observe the month by wearing the Autism Puzzle Ribbon and put information out in the church vestibule or link to the Autism Society at the parish website and Facebook pages - see http://www.autism-society.org/about-us/puzzle-ribbon.html.
2. Ask parish staff, the faith formation team or other key leaders to read the short article on Autism and Faith http://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/in-the-community/autism-and-faith.html. Take just ten minutes at a staff meeting in April to consider how the parish might be a more welcoming community to those living with autism.
3. The Autism Society has partnered with AMC Theaters to show sensory friendly films at 10 AM on Saturdays once a month where viewers can sing, walk, dance, or shout along with the film without embarrassment. The Maple Ridge 8 Theater at 4276 Maple Rd. in Amherst is offering the following each month starting with Saturday, April 19, 2014 - RIO 2; and on Saturday, May 31, 2014 - MALEFICENT; and on Saturday, June 21, 2014 - HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2; and on Saturday, July 26, 2014 - PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE; and on Saturday, September 27, 2014 - DOLPHIN TALE 2. If your church is in the Buffalo metro area, why not sponsor a movie outing in partnership with one of the several parishes near the theater? Invite any interested families back to the nearby church hall for refreshments, and getting acquainted together.
4. Considering sponsoring a monthly support group in your area in cooperation with other nearby parishes for the parents of children with autism. It does not take much more than a small meeting space and a few light refreshments to say a lot. Consider the success of the SS. Anne and Joachim Ministry at St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville, which serves parents of adult children with various disabilities.
5. Host an event for Mother's Day. Host a Night Out in partnership with a local agency that serves this population. (Mom's can bring the Dad's too if they like.) These parents will appreciate an evening of respite and camaraderie more than any others. While the parents have an enjoyable dinner together and get better acquainted, the children can enjoy some fun with crafts, snacks, movies in the church hall.
If you have another great idea or a success story please share it with us. Contact Dennis Mahaney who coordinates the Disability Action Team for the Diocese of Buffalo, or call 716-847-8393.
Click here to order the DISABILITY AWARENESS VIDEO
For more information about the work and services of the Disability Action Team contact Dennis Mahaney
, Office for Parish Life at 716-847-8393. For more resources and activities consult the events, services and resources pages here or contact the Erie County Office for the Disabled
for activities in the community.