Archdiocese of Washington’s White Mass Honors Gifts of Special Needs Community

Monday, November 21, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville auxiliary bishop of Washington, celebrated the White Mass on Sunday at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Hosted by The Department of Special Needs Ministries, the annual Mass recognizes the giftedness of the Deaf community and all those with disabilities. The Mass was sign language interpreted. Monsignor John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, was the homilist.

The White Mass brings together people of good will who have special needs and those who care for them. Those who attended the Mass were invited to wear white, symbolizing the renewal of baptismal vows and the bonds of community shared through the sacrament of initiation. After the processional hymn, Bishop Dorsonville performed the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling of the Holy Water.

In the homily, Monsignor John Enzler shared that his vocation was born from his volunteer work with those who have special needs. “We must remember – Jesus reigns. He is a king who serves. His royalty is in giving back,” he said.

The Church continues its ongoing mission of speaking about social justice and social teaching in the public square. In 1995, the U.S. 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.”

The Department of Special Needs Ministries provides support to parishes and organizations that enables them to utilize the gifts and talents brought forth by the Deaf community and those with disabilities. 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, and for nearly three decades the archdiocese has provided outreach to clergy, parish, ministry and nonprofit partners, including support for mothers receiving a prenatal diagnosis of a disability, parish-based catechetical programs for students with special needs, adult faith experiences for deaf Catholics and outreach to veterans with a service-related disability or service-related PTSD.


The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Chieko Noguchi
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