Archdiocese of Washington Celebrates Annual White Mass in Gratitude for those with Special Needs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory celebrated the 11th annual White Mass on Sunday at St. Francis of Assisi Deaf Catholic Church in Landover Hills, Maryland. The Mass honors the Deaf community, all those with disabilities, and people suffering from mental illnesses, as well as their family members, caregivers, and advocates for the special needs community.

“Jesus is always inclusive in his approach with people, always finding ways to include all people into discipleship,” Archbishop Gregory said in his homily, noting how Jesus shared meals with tax collectors and sinners, welcomed the little children, and called flawed and imperfect men as his disciples.

Christ’s welcoming is what “draws the Archdiocese of Washington to celebrate this annual White Mass that publicly and gratefully acknowledges the presence and the gifts of our brothers and sisters with special needs and/or disabilities,” the archbishop said. “We admit that we are simply incomplete without you. Your dignity as God’s children is a proud legacy that the Church must never forget nor neglect to welcome. Jesus is always inclusive in his love and in His welcome.”

The Prayers of the Faithful included intentions for those marginalized and vulnerable, those suffering from the coronavirus, and for a greater support of the culture of life in our country and world.

The Center for Deaf Ministries in Landover Hills houses St. Francis Deaf Catholic Church, which serves as a “home” to all Deaf Catholics in the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Washington continues its ongoing mission of speaking in the public square about the dignity of all people. In 1978 and updated in 2017, the Catholic Bishops issued the Sacramental Guidelines for Persons with Disabilities, which states: “All members of the Body of Christ are uniquely called by God by virtue of their Baptism. In light of this call, the Church seeks to support all in their growth in holiness, and to encourage all in their vocations.” The Mass is therefore given the designation “white” because of the color’s connection to the baptismal promises and the divine calling all the baptized share.

The Department of Special Needs Ministries, which hosts the annual White Mass, provides support to parishes and organizations that enable the Deaf community and those with disabilities to utilize their many gifts and talents. The archdiocese has a proud legacy of serving Catholics and community members with special needs. The desire is to foster a place of welcome and belonging for every individual.  For nearly three decades, the archdiocese has provided outreach to clergy, parish, ministry and nonprofit partners, including support for mothers who receive prenatal diagnoses of a disability, parish-based catechetical programs for students with special needs, adult faith experiences for deaf Catholics and veterans with service-related disabilities or service-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).