Cardinal Wuerl Honors Gifts of Persons with Special Needs at White Mass

Sunday, October 26, 2014

‘Every one of us in this Church is a member of God’s family’ 

WASHINGTON – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, today celebrated the fifth annual White Mass, which honors the gifts of all persons with disabilities and those with mental health challenges, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl discussed how each individual is a unique reflection of the majesty of God and how God rejoices in all of his creation.

“Every one of us in this Church is a member of God’s family. Just as all of us are created by God as we are and all of us have a place at the table of the Lord through baptism, so those with special needs bring their own particular gifts to the Church and to our celebration today. Perhaps the gift that each special needs person has is the gift of a less complicated, less encumbered, less conditioned sense of God’s Spirit, God’s presence, God’s love.”

“Each of us is born with unique abilities and inabilities in body and mind. In baptism, however, we are born anew, receiving new life as we pass from the old order into a whole new creation in which we are alive in the Spirit,” Cardinal Wuerl continued. “’The Church is like a great orchestra in which there is variety,’ Pope Francis teaches us. He goes on to say, ‘everyone is different, different, each with their own qualities and that’s the beauty of the Church: everyone brings his or her own, what God gave them, to enrich others.’”

The White Mass brought national, regional and local leaders together in prayer with those who have special needs and their caregivers. The Mass takes its name from the color’s connection to baptism and new life in the Church. All those who attended were invited to wear white as a symbolic renewal of their baptismal vows.

Catholics are taught to look beyond the disability to see the person and their gifts, interests and unique personality and to recognize that each person is an important member of the Body of Christ. In 1995, 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.”

The Archdiocese of Washington’s Department of Special Needs Ministries hosts this annual liturgy. The archdiocese has a proud legacy of serving Catholics and community members with special needs. This effort, begun nearly three decades ago, continues today with 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 experie


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.

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