September 4, 2012 // Local

Special Mass offered for those with disabilities

Bus transportation offered

For those who live in Fort Wayne and surrounding area with no other means of transportation, wishing to attend this special Mass, a chartered bus provided by the diocese is available by reservation only. Space is limited and there is a $20 fee per person. Deadline for reservations, with forms and payment, is Sept. 17. The bus will board at 10 a.m. at the University of Saint Francis and return at 6:30 p.m. For more information contact Mary at (260) 399-1458 or [email protected] Visit www.diocesefwsb.org/disabilitiesmass to download forms.

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SOUTH BEND — A special Mass for those with disabilities, their families, friends and caregivers will be celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend on Sept. 23. Sponsored by the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Office of Evangelization and Special Ministries. The Mass, which will celebrate the life and dignity of each person and recognize that those with disabilities offer a profound witness of faith, begins at 1:30 p.m. and is open to everyone.

Secretariat for Evangelization and Special Ministries Mary Glowaski, reports that the ministry for those with disabilities in the diocese has been developing in earnest recently, driven by a pastoral letter written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1978, which, she stresses, is still relevant today.

“It emphasizes full and meaningful participation for everyone in the Church,” says Glowaski, adding that the National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities is the office that assists the diocese with ministry formation. Its guidance and support have been invaluable as the ministry grows.

Glowaski says she hopes this Mass will help those with disabilities “know they matter in a profound and definite way to the bishop and to the diocese.”

“Everyone is called to be a meaningful part of the Church, called to use their gifts and advance the kingdom,” Glowaski says. “We need everyone and we need their gifts,” she continues, “Those with disabilities have specific and special knowledge about God’s love because of their experience of God in their suffering, and also in their many triumphs and accomplishments.”

The celebration of the Eucharist is the ultimate expression of love and Glowaski hopes that the Mass for those with disabilities will be a witness to parishes and those who worship within them to revision ways to embrace all people.

“Some of our disabled brothers and sisters have expressed that they don’t always feel welcome in our Church. We have a responsibility to look for ways to not only welcome them, but embrace them and their gifts,” emphasizes Glowaski.

According to the Office of Evangelization and Special Ministries, recent parish survey results have laid the groundwork for this special ministry, which will serve people from birth to death with educational and catechetical elements, to move forward.

A newly formed advisory board, boasting a membership of parents, persons with disabilities, school principals and professionals from the broader community, has recently met to guide the formation of this endeavor. They hope to inspire the inclusion of a simple question into all parish level activity planning — “How will we include and embrace our disabled brothers and sisters and their gifts?”

Glowaski is empowered by Bishop Rhoades’ support of this endeavor and says, “His leadership in this should inspire all of us to look around and see who is not at our Eucharistic tables. Is it the disabled, those who have mental illness, autism, Down syndrome, those in wheelchairs? God has provided us with everything we need to be communities of inclusion and expressions of His love. The Gospels call and challenge us to be creative, to invite, to revision and embrace our brothers and sisters with disabilities.”

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