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Special Needs

Disability Article Featured in US Catholic Magazine

Real presence: What Catholics with developmental disabilities bring to the table

Catholic churches strive to welcome those with developmental disabilities through special ministries and a change in attitude. Like many other lifelong Catholics, Danny Benavidez, a member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Chula Vista, California, helps out at his parish in a number of ways. On Thursdays he serves as a eucharistic minister. Every other Sunday he delivers communion to the homebound. Once a month he listens to the “talking, talking, talking” at his Knights of Columbus meeting. And once a week—usually Tuesday—he stops into a neighboring parish to visit an old friend, who is now a deacon. Benavidez, who has Down syndrome, is a third-degree Knight. He was an altar server for 20 years. Since 1981 he has been involved in his parish’s Faith and Light community for people with developmental disabilities and their family members and friends. Passionate about his faith, he joyfully greets his pastor at Mass every week. -

The National Directory for Catechesis states that: “Persons with disabilities…are integral members of the Christian community.

All persons with disabilities have the capacity to proclaim the Gospel and to be living witnesses to its truth within the community of faith and offer valuable gifts. Their involvement enriches every aspect of Church life. 

They [persons with disabilities] are not just the recipients of catechesis—they are also its agents.

All persons with disabilities or special needs should be welcomed in the Church. Every person, however limited, is capable of growth in holiness.

Some persons with disabilities live in isolating conditions that make it difficult for them to participate in catechetical experiences. “Since provision of access to religious functions is a pastoral duty,” parishes should make that much more effort to include those who may feel excluded.

The Church’s pastoral response in such situations is to learn about the disability, offer support to the family, and welcome the child.” (NDC USCCB, Par. 49)

Listed below are resources to support the catechetical and faith formation of people with disabilities so they can live up to this call