Children and adults with disabilities and their families need faith communities that provide the necessary accommodations so that they feel welcomed and experience a sense of belonging. In 2017, United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) released the Revised Edition of the “Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities”. The information regarding Sacraments and other “frequently asked questions” are intended to help families, priests, parish staffs, and diocesan personnel work together to make our parish communities places where individuals with disabilities and their families can have full and meaningful participation in the Mass and Sacramental life of the Church.
Baptism: “Baptism is to be made available to all who freely ask for it, [and] are properly disposed… Disability, of itself, is never a reason for deferring Baptism. Persons who lack the use of reason are to be baptized provided at least one parent or guardian consents to it
Confirmation: “All baptized Catholics who possess the use of reason may receive the Sacrament of Confirmation … Persons who because of intellectual or developmental disabilities may never attain the use of reason can receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and should be encouraged either directly or, if necessary, through their parents, to receive it.”
Eucharist: A person needs only to “'distinguish the body of Christ from ordinary food,' even if this recognition is evidenced through manner, gesture, or reverential silence rather than verbally… Cases of doubt should be resolved in favor of the right of the Catholic to receive the sacrament."
Reconciliation: “As long as the individual is capable of having a sense of contrition for having committed sin, even if he or she cannot describe the sin precisely in words, the person may receive sacramental absolution."
If you are a member of a parish, call your parish office and ask for the pastor or staff person who can help. If you do not have a parish affiliation, or if you are a pastor, staff, or part of a parish community and would like additional support, you can contact someone from a diocesan office. Call the main number at 260.422.4611. For questions regarding:
•Sacramental Prep for Children - contact the Director of the Office of Catechesis, Jonathan Kaltenbach at x4213 or email@example.com
•Accommodations needed to fully participate at Mass (Low-gluten hosts, braille or large print materials, Church renovations) contact the Director of the Office of Worship, Brian MacMichael at x3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org
•Participation in Parish Youth Groups - contact the Director of Youth Ministry, John Pratt at x3321 or email@example.com
•Support for Mental Health Diagnoses’ - contact the Assistant to the Bishop in Pastoral Care, Mary Glowaski at #1458 or firstname.lastname@example.org
•Support for a difficult Prenatal Diagnosis – Contact the Director of Marriage and Family Life and Miriam’s Blessing, Lisa Everett at x4110 or email@example.com Visit: http://www.diocesefwsb.org/Miriams-Blessing-(Poor-Prenatal-Diagnosis-Support)
•Special Education Programs in the Catholic Schools – contact the Secretariat for Catholic Education, Carl Loesch x3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org
•Suggestions on “building inclusive parishes” (providing parish assessments, starting a “Belonging” Group at your parish, or any other questions) contact Allison Sturm in the Ministry with Persons with Disabilities at #3384 or email@example.com
*We are in the process of collecting information on various accommodations provided at parishes. If you are looking for a parish that provides a specific need that you loved one must have to have meaningful participation, please call Allison and she will assist you in the search.