SCHOOL OF LITURGY 2018
A relatively new workshop at Liturgy School is, ‘Facilitating persons with Disabilities’ which will be led by Bethesda, a Catholic Community for families of persons with Disabilities (PwDs). It promotes the inclusion of PwDs in the life of the Church and particularly in the liturgical celebrations.
Participants, we hope, will include priests, deacons, catechists, lay ministers, parishioners, volunteers and others. They will share in the experience of walking in the shoes of someone with a disability and learn how the Mass itself impacts on the lives of PwDs and their families.
A theological reflection on the inclusion of PwDs in our liturgical worship and the challenges to this inclusion will be presented. This should highlight the necessity for encouraging the active participation of PwDs and their families in the Mass as an important means of making the Church whole. As we care for each and every one of God’s children, bringing them into the presence of God, we glorify God and further humankind’s sanctification.
As a means of enabling PwDs to participate fully in the celebration of the Eucharist, sensory-friendly Masses have been introduced in our archdiocese. These Masses are held every second Sunday at the Holy Trinity RC Church, Arouca at 11.15 a.m. and every fourth Sunday (resuming from August) at the St Benedict’s RC Church, La Romaine at 11 a.m.
These Masses follow a routine pattern that helps our PwDs know what to expect, and by adjusting aspects that affect their functioning i.e. sensory processing, they provide a comfortable space where our PwDs can be accepted as they are, without forcing them to fit into traditional societal conforms.
The intention behind these Masses is not to separate our PwDs, but simply to provide a forum that allows them to be part of our community in an environment that suits their needs, and where they can as such be safe and happy. It is a recognition that PwDs exist, that they are part of our community, and that change is needed in the format of the Mass to suit their needs.
Through greater awareness as well as training catechists and volunteers to understand how to effectively work with PwDs, other successful programmes can be implemented. We are excited to receive you in this workshop and await your participation.
Bethesda achieved the milestone of three years of existence in Trinidad with a celebration held Sunday, July 8 starting with Holy Mass. The chief celebrant was Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris who facilitated this community and remains very supportive of its ministry. Attendance at these Masses has grown from 45 persons on June 23, 2015 to over 200 persons at various times, including a very strong volunteer base.