Our Lord calls upon us to Open Hearts –
“Full participation in the Christian community has another important aspect that must not be overlooked. When we think of people with disabilities in relation to ministry, we tend automatically to think of doing something for them. We do not reflect that they can do something for us and with us….Moreover, they have the same duty as all members of the community to do the Lord’s work in the world, according to their God given talents and capacity.” – United States Catholic Bishops Pastoral Statement on People with Disabilities
Parishes strive for full parish participation through ministry to, with, by and for our brothers and sisters with disabilities. The initial step is to identify an advocate for persons with disabilities in each parish. The Diocesan Disabilities Action team will provide ongoing training, resources and empowerment for the Advocates, The second step in this process was to establish a survey to assess the needs of parishioners with disabilities. Next advocates will establish a Disability Ministry in the parish by recruiting and preparing volunteers to minister to the needs of people with disabilities. Once the support system is in place, we will encourage and assist persons with disabilities to share their God given talents with our parish communities.
Parish Advocate for Persons with Disabilities
Assessing Parishioner Needs – In helping to determine the needs of parishioners with disabilities, the Diocesan Disabilities Action Team has established this survey. It is in Word, so individual parish information may be inserted. This has been distributed in parishes as bulletin inserts, mailed in quarterly parishioner mailings and given to new parishioners at time of registration. The completed surveys are viewed by the advocate and members of the disability ministry to prioritize the needs. A report should be given to the Pastor and/or Parish Council.
Make Disability a Ministry – The team leading this ministry should include representation of the people being served. A person with a visual impairment, a person with a mobility disability, a person with mental illness, a parent of a child with a disability and a professional in the special education field would be excellent members. This is a questionnaire that may be distributed to help obtain members.
For more community events visit: Erie County Office for the Disabled