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

‘All of us are highly prized, uniquely made individuals’

October 20, 2013

HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, today celebrated the fourth 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.

“Each one of us in our own individuality, in our own uniqueness, not only manifests the glory of God, but because we are who we are, we actually bless and praise the Lord. All of us are highly prized, uniquely made individuals. God sees each of us but he also sees us together as the masterpiece of his creation reflecting his glory,” said Cardinal Wuerl. “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. Before God, we are all children, before God, we all lay claim to his love in that divine Spirit within us that we received in baptism and that manifests itself in so many diverse, challenging and yet real ways.”

Cardinal Wuerl continued, “Pope Francis, who has captured the imaginations and hearts of people all around the world, tells us the message is very simple. God loves each of us. We must embrace one another in that love and see in each other, not only the love of God but the image – the face – of God.”

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 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 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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