Archdiocese of Washington Hosts Tenth Annual White Mass Honoring Special Needs Community

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory celebrated the tenth annual White Mass on Sunday at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. 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.

“Today, the Church of our Archdiocese rejoices with our sisters and brothers who live life, fully, joyfully and successfully with their disabilities and they serve as splendid examples of courage and confidence for all within this local Church,” Archbishop Gregory said in his homily.

Archbishop Gregory went on to preach about the Gospel from Luke, which contrasted the prayers of the proud Pharisee and the humble tax collector. Unlike the Pharisee, who was “violent in his rejection of other people and their gifts,” the archbishop said the tax collector was able to pray with hope.

“The Tax Collector was open to tomorrow and my prayer on this Sunday, my sisters and brothers, is so are all of you,” he said as he concluded.

Members of the special needs community participated in the Mass by altar serving, reading the prayers of the faithful, and bringing forward the gifts. Congregants wore white as a sign of the unity of all in the Body of Christ through baptism.

The Church continues its ongoing mission of speaking about social justice and social teaching in the public square. In 1995 and updated in 2017, the Catholic Bishops issued the Sacramental Guidelines for Persons with Disabilities, which states: “By reason of their baptism, all Catholics are equal in dignity in the sight of God and have the same divine calling.” Those attending the Mass were invited to wear white as a symbolic renewal of their baptismal vows.

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).