Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass for Archdiocesan Faith, Deafness and Disabilities Conference
March 14, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, was the celebrant and homilist at the Mass today for the Archdiocese of Washington’s Faith, Deafness and Disabilities Conference. Held at DeMatha High School, this one-day conference brought together the faith community and those working in public agencies to collaborate and explore ways to ensure all people, regardless of disability, are valued as essential members of our communities.
Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by briefly reflecting on the liturgical readings of the day. “There are many lessons in the liturgy today, but one very telling one is that God’s ways are not ours, that blessings come in many, many shapes and forms and that it is not up to us to decide to place value on persons,” said the cardinal. “Rather, it is God who chooses all of us and sees all of us in his light not ours. We are invited to see one another, and that includes all of those who participate in this conference, in the light of God’s love and through the eyes of God.”
“When I think about the face of the Church in the Archdiocese of Washington, I see the faces of those parishioners I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with over the years who live with various levels of ability and disability. If you usually attend a Mass that is spoken aloud, but have attended a Mass which is signed, you have experienced the Word being proclaimed as it has always been, and yet in a new way. If you know someone with Down Syndrome, you have experienced the gift of freely shared love with no inhibition. You may know of a family member or neighbor whose life is devoted to the demanding care of a loved one with special needs. We are blessed to share and learn from so diverse an expression of the human experience,” he continued.
“My brothers and sisters, it is the light of faith, the light that is ours because of our love of God and one another that makes it possible for us to see in each of us, and in all of us, the presence, the gift, the grace and the love of God,” said the cardinal, referencing the liturgy’s second reading (Ephesians 5: 8-14) as he concluded his homily.
Hosted by the archdiocese’s Department of Special Needs Ministries, the Faith, Deafness and Disabilities Conference focused on two themes: making resources available for all people to grow in faith, and teaching families and parish leaders how persons with special needs can be prepared for full and active participation in the sacramental life of the Church and parish-based ministries.
Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics and author of the book, Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most delivered the keynote address. This year, the conference included a Special Education Summit which addressed innovative strategies for the education of children with special needs in Catholic schools of the archdiocese, and in parish religious education programs. The conference workshops were offered in English, Spanish and American Sign Language.
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.