Second Annual White Mass
‘All have a place at the table of the Lord’
October 22, 2011
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, was the principal celebrant and homilist for the second annual White Mass, held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on Sunday, October 23, 2011. The Mass was held to honor Catholics who have special needs and those who work to support them. In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl told the nearly 600 congregants, “One of those many manifestations of the goodness, the love, the greatness of God is the uniqueness of every special needs person and the realization that, before God, we are all children.”
The Department of Special Needs Ministries of the Archdiocese of Washington hosted the liturgy to recognize the gifts of all persons – those who are Deaf, those who have disabilities and those with a mental illness. The liturgy was sign language interpreted, and low gluten hosts were made available. The Mass has the designation of “white” because of the color’s connection to baptism and new life. Many in attendance at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle were wearing white to renew their baptismal vows.
In highlighting that each and every Christian has a role in the New Evangelization, Cardinal Wuerl told a story about famed singer Andrea Bocelli. The tenor has been blind since he was 12 years old. When asked when he became involved in evangelization, the Cardinal said Bocelli answered, ‘I was baptized. I have been a part of the Church’s mission all of my life.’
“We are all part of the Body of Christ, equal in dignity, even if some of us need accommodations or other support to participate more fully,” said Mary O’Meara, Executive Director of the Department of Special Needs Ministries of the Archdiocese of Washington. Following the Mass at a reception held at the Cathedral, the department made available many new resources for those with special needs. A 16-page sacramental resource guide for those with special needs was made available for the first time. Developed through the works of the department and the archdiocese, the guide assists in providing appropriate preparation for the sacraments to students with special needs and help to foster an attitude of inclusion. Another new resource that was made available was the “Affirming Life” initiative on pre- and post-natal pastoral care for families dealing with an unexpected pre-natal diagnosis. The initiative is designed to ensure pregnant women, especially those facing financial hardships and other pressures, are fully supported, cared for and provided material, spiritual and community-based support through a coordinated network of providers during and after the pregnancy. These resources will be available on the archdiocesan website.
In advance of the debut of the new Roman Missal, the department also distributed copies of the changes in Braille and large print that were provided by the Xavier Society for the Blind in New York. Those materials are available from the department upon request.
In addition, those in attendance were invited to participate in the pilgrimage to the 50th Eucharistic Congress in June 2012. Pilgrims will travel from the Center for Deaf Ministries of the Archdiocese of Washington in Landover Hills, Maryland, to Dublin, Ireland. This will be the first time the Eucharistic Congress is offering a complete Deaf track.
The Archdiocese of Washington has been a leader in serving Catholics who have special needs. This effort started more than fifty years ago with the opening of the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute and continues today with enhanced outreach to clergy, parish, ministry and nonprofit partners.
You can read more about this event in the Catholic Standard.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 600,000 Catholics living in Washington, DC and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
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