Open Minds

Our Church Opens Minds through awareness about the variety of disabilities that affect people every day. All people are differently-abled. There is no us andthem when it comes to disabilities. At some point all people experience some form of disability which makes us all only temporarily-abled.  There is a great deal of information about various disabilities available here through documents, weblinks, as well as local service providers and support groups.

The National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities ( works in cooperation with the United States Catholic Bishops. NCPD was established in 1982 to promote implementation of the 1978 Pastoral statement of the US Catholic Bishop on People with Disabilities.  This statement calls for full inclusion of all persons with disabilities in the church and in society.  It is up to people in each parish to make this vision a reality.  NCPD publishes a monthly newsletter, hosts occasional webinars and presents Catholic perspectives on disability issues.

Specific Disabilities

There are specific resources, organizations, websites and support groups that serve people with specific disabilities.  Among these disabilities are aging issues, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum disorders, Celiac Disease, central auditory processing, developmental disabilities, Down Syndrome, Dyslexia, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, hearing loss, learning disabilities, mental illnesses (e.g. Alzheimers), Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, prenatal concerns, Post War Traumatic Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Tourette Syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, and additional disabilities.  

Awareness Resources

Often the most challenging barriers people with disabilities encounter are the negative attitudes of others, including those which convey stifling pity, fear or repressive miscommunications about a person’s abilities. An important first step involves familiarizing personnel and volunteers with the concerns and needs of people with disabilities.  Consider the following as a start for basic awareness:

For All Ages:

Did you know? (statistics on disabilities)

Person-First Language

Welcome and Justice

How Can I Make a Difference


Color the Differences (a coloring book)

Planning for Future Happiness:

Here are some practical resources for parents of young adults who aren’t likely to be able to live independently:

Additional Resources

The Diocese of Buffalo offers many resources and links to help communities become more welcoming toward people with disabilities.


Parish Resources in Print and on Web

Opening Doors to People with Disabilities – Volume I:  Pastoral Manual (1995), Volume II:  Resource File (1997).  In Volume II, Chapter 3, Section A the resources includes many practical articles and forms published by the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, Washington D.C.  at 1-202- 529-2933 or 1-202- 529-2934 (tty) or 

That All May Worship is an ecumenical resource that employs that latest research and techology for inclusion-minded congregations in 2015.

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and Father Henri Nouwen is a video highlighting the importance of including people with physical, mental and emotional differences into liturgy and church life,  Available from Pathways Awareness Foundation at 1-312-701-3050 or

Parent Letters from your Parish offers a letter to parents of children with a disability to provide guidance and welcome from the parish.    Available from Our Sunday Visitor at 1- 800-348-2440 or Family: Children with Special Needs Booklet # 548  that offers information and resources to help parents of a child with special needs with the practical issues they face.  Available free from: or call 1-800-531-6196.

Autism and Your Church: Nurturing the Spiritual Growth of People with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Barbara Newman, Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2006.  An interfaith primer offering practical suggestions for welcoming and including individuals with ASD into the full life of parish communities.  Available from Friendship Ministries at 1-888-866-8966 or

Resources for Hard-of-Hearing and Deaf by NCSPW


Parent Resources

Broken Body Angels – by Deacon Mike Quinn is a web resource for parents and caregivers of people with disabilities. Those include families, medical caregivers, professional staffs, as well as priests, deacons, pastors, and all who minister to those with special needs by Deacon Mike Quinn, a father of 4 adopted children with multiple disabilities.  

Parent Network of WNY – provides information, referrals, and educational seminars for parents and professionals to enable individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential. 

Dental Care for People with Downs Syndrome


Agencies and Services

Baker Victory Services Outpatient Counseling – has family, and group counseling available for children and adolescents (ages 5 to 19). The clinic, which is certified by the New York State Office of Mental Health, is designed to offer active treatment to seriously emotionally disturbed children/adolescents. These services are geared for families faced with communication difficulties, adolescent conflicts, conduct/behavior issues, school-related difficulties, attention deficit disorder, abuse, psychiatric disorders, anxiety disorders, and grief issues. Psychiatric consultation, and medication evaluation/monitoring are provided, as is assistance with school-related issues and referral/linkage to the appropriate community services. For more information, call (716) 828-9500.

Monsignor Carr Institute is a Catholic Charities outreach service that provides clinical services, long term counseling, and traditional services for persons experiencing a wide range of emotional and mental challenges. For more information, call (716) 895-7715. 

Catholic Charities Community Outreach Treatment Team (COTT) provides mental health services to homebound individuals. COTT also provides clinic services to primary care centers and designated Catholic Charities offices, Services to other locations in Erie County may be assigned as appropriate. 

Catholic Charities Creative Edge Studio is an expressive arts therapy program serving adults 18 and above who are recovering from mental illness and/or addictions. In a two hour weekly group session, participants are invited to explore a variety of expressive arts (i.e. visual, written and vocal arts, movement and meditative experiences) that focus on self expression and the creative process. Benefits of participation include improvement in social skills, increased self-knowledge and self-esteem, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. For more information, call (716) 862-0367. 

Catholic Charities Children’s Mental Health Clinics are three clinics located in Niagara County which serve children ages 3 to 18 who present with a psychiatric disorder and who are appropriate for outpatient care. Services include mental health assessment and evaluation, individual, family and group psychotherapy, psychiatric evaluation, medication management, behavior management and parenting skills. Specialized services are provided for children and youth who are suffering from the effects of physical and/or sexual abuse by a clinician qualified to provide treatment. School based services are available to the Niagara Falls School District.  For more information, call(716) 285-0825. 

Catholic Charities Salamanca Clubhouse provides informal leisure and nutritional services for adults with mental health needs in a home-like setting . Numerous center and community based recreational opportunities, outings and trips are offered to assist individuals in meeting their socialization needs and support continued living. For more information, call (716) 945-0619.

Catholic Therapists – provides referrals to qualified psychotherapists and mental health professionals who are faithful to the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church and who integrate the truths of the faith in therapeutic process..

Erie County Office for the Disabledcreated to ensure that Erie County citizens with disabilites would have a direct voice to county government; to make available to such an advocate that would work within the county structure to develop and enhance services and to oversee facilities and programs by the county.

Pathways to Promise: Ministry and Mental – formed to enable faith communities to become leaders in reaching out to people with mental illness and their families. Offers liturgical and educational materials, program models and networking information. For more information,call (314) 644-8400 

Buffalo Catholic Deaf Apostolate – is centered at Resurrection Church in Cheektowaga, 130 Como Park Blvd. (corner of Como Park Blvd and Union Rd-Route 277)  Weekly Mass for the Deaf is celebrated at the 10:30 AM parish Mass. (Holy day vigils at 7 PM) Mass is signed by Fr. Conrad Stachowiak (director of Deaf ministry) and Sister Conchetta LoPresti, OSF 

Deaf and hearing parishioners participate together in the Mass that is spoken as well as signed.  Deaf lectors, Eucharistic ministers, and ushers serve with the hearing members of the parish as we praise God together.  Call the parish for: adult and child sacramental preparation, social events, religious education for children with hearing impairments, sacrament of reconciliation, weddings, wakes, funeral, Confirmation, home and hospital visitation, and sacrament of anointing of the sick.  Sister Conchetta is eager to interpret in other churches of the diocese for special occasions when available.  Phone number is: 716 683-3712 or through webpage 

Liturgical Signs and Prayers:  A resource for Deaf Ministries DVD offers sing language interpreters examples of various interpreting styles for Rites of a Wedding, Baptism, a Funeral and parts of the Mass. Available from the Center for Deaf Ministries, Archdiocese of Washington, 301-459-7464, or Deaf Ministries for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 410-347-0704, This resource may be borrowed from the Department of Lifelong Faith Formation Office by calling 847-5521. 

Large print Lectionary and Sacramentary available  in 24, 34, 44 and 48 Black Arial font. The volumes follow the liturgical season. Order from  


Diocesan Supports

Office of Pro-Life Activities – for the sacredness of all human life from conception until natural death, and responds to any threats to life.  It is their hope to build a “culture of life” that respects and protects all life particularly to the most vulnerable” the unborn, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and the terminally ill. For more information, contact the  Director through Miriam Escalante-Secretary at 847-2205 or