Special Needs

Mission Statement

The Office of Deaf and Disabilities Ministry seeks to create vibrant parish and community programs where all are truly welcomed and invited to walk with Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. The Office helps provide access to faith through the reception of the Sacraments and participation in parish life. These efforts often bring us into collaborative partnerships so that all people are valued and supported in their home, school, parish, place of employment and community. Programs are offered in multiple languages including American Sign Language, Spanish and French. Supports are also available in Braille as well as other formats for those with communication differences.

Who We Serve

Persons who are Deaf and Deaf Blind | Gallaudet University Chaplaincy | St. Francis Deaf Catholic Church | Local ASL-interpreted parishes | Persons who are Low Vision or Blind | Persons with disabilities including physical, developmental, intellectual or sensory disabilities | Families receiving an unexpected prenatal diagnosis of disability or lethal condition | Persons with mental illness | Veterans with service-related disability

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“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.”  – National Directory of Catechesis, Paragraph 49

We are made in God’s image. We are all part of the human family, and in baptism, we become equal members of the Body of Christ. The Office helps Catholics with special needs access their faith by providing support, education, resources and connections to community partners. In particular, we help Catholics more fully participate in Mass, in reception of the sacraments (including faith formation), and in experiencing the richness of parish life. Our work often extends outside the parish, involving partnerships with local organizations, employers, governmental bodies and institutions.

The work of the Office is formed by the 1978 Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Statement, which calls upon people of good will to promote the well-being of those who are Deaf or who have a disability and their full inclusion into the life of the parish and our Church. The statement reminds us that all persons have unique gifts to share and that these gifts can be harnessed in service to the Church and our communities.

 

Ministry for Persons with Disabilities

Below are just a few of the ways we serve our brothers and sisters living with disabilities and their families:

Special Needs Catechesis: Ongoing training, materials development for parents and catechists, including best practices for using Religious IEP’s.

Affirming Life/Prenatal Diagnosis Initiative: Helping parishes support women and families to carry to term following unexpected prenatal diagnosis of a disability or fatal defect. For more information, click here.

White Mass: Annual Mass celebrating the giftedness of all persons especially Deaf Catholics and Catholics with Disabilities.

Parish Ministry Formation: Helping create ministries serving persons who are disabled that meet the specific needs of these persons in their parishes.

Adult Faith Formation: Supporting Faith & Light communities for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Contact the Office of Deaf and Disabilities Ministry for information on Faith and Light Communities in your area.

Housing Opportunities: Helping create group homes for persons with disabilities on parish property, using the Rosaria Communities, Inc. model.

Hispanic Ministry Special Needs Catechesis: Translating materials into Spanish; developing Hispanic Special Needs ministries based in parishes.

Retreats for Families: Spiritual retreats for families caring for a person with a disability.

Archdiocese of Washington Community Resource Partners

Our five current replication models of our Community Resource Partners reflect the approach taken by a small group of families at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, Maryland, who joined together in 1994 to explore how their parish could do more to include and serve the needs of persons with developmental differences. That conversation resulted in the creation of Potomac Community Resources, Inc., a nonprofit organization that today provides 35 therapeutic recreational, social and respite care programs and serves some 400 members who have developmental disabilities. The replication process has been a team effort between the Office of Deaf and Disabilities Ministry, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and Potomac Community Resources.

If you are interested in how your parish might become a host site, please contact the Office of Deaf and Disabilities Ministry.

This video produced by America Magazine highlights our local community resource programs.

Videos and Webinars from the Office of Deaf and Disabilities Ministry

The New Roman Missal for Interpreters

This series of videos was created in 2011 by a national team of experienced Deaf persons, clergy, pastoral workers, and liturgical interpreters for reference and practice while preparing to interpret the new translation of the Roman Missal into American Sign Language for the Deaf Catholic Community.

Webinars

The Office of Deaf and Disabilities Ministry hosts webinars on a wide variety of topics. Follow us on Facebook to be the first to know when new webinars are scheduled!

Handing on the Gospel

This resource is produced for Liturgical ASL Interpreters for the upcoming Sunday Mass. The videos feature Deaf signers for all of the readings so that our interpreters can see a Deaf ASL model to inform their linguistic decisions on Sunday.

Events and Speakers

The Office of Deaf and Disabilities Ministry seeks to create vibrant parish and community programs where all are truly welcomed. This video collection highlights just a few of the many events, speakers and other programs produced each year.

Contact the Office of Deaf and Disabilities Ministry for more information.