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Disabilities awareness and inclusion

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St. Thomas Aquinas theology teacher and campus minister, Michael McCormack, along with some of the campus ministry band, created a Lenten experience for Catholics and non-Catholics living with blindness and visual impairments who come to Lighthouse of Broward's Saturday Interfaith Group. During the second half of the session McCormack shared his collection of international crosses and crucifixes with the group by allowing them to feel each one. Before they felt the cross or crucifix, he explained its history and identified what part of the world the cross or crucifix came from. Since most of the people in the group living with blindness have not had the opportunity to feel examples of sacred art, they were very appreciative of this unique experience.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO | Dolores McDiarmid

St. Thomas Aquinas theology teacher and campus minister, Michael McCormack, along with some of the campus ministry band, created a Lenten experience for Catholics and non-Catholics living with blindness and visual impairments who come to Lighthouse of Broward's Saturday Interfaith Group. During the second half of the session McCormack shared his collection of international crosses and crucifixes with the group by allowing them to feel each one. Before they felt the cross or crucifix, he explained its history and identified what part of the world the cross or crucifix came from. Since most of the people in the group living with blindness have not had the opportunity to feel examples of sacred art, they were very appreciative of this unique experience.

The Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y. has produced an excellent DVD called “Disabilities Awareness: Welcoming Our Differences.” The DVD teaches the viewer how the Buffalo diocese has successfully taken steps toward making their church communities a welcoming place for all people, including people living with disabilities.

After viewing it I began to wonder about our archdiocese. I am curious about how people living with various disabilities are active in their church community. I know of four people living with vision loss who feel welcomed and a part of their church community.

Chris and Joe Palano, twin brothers who are totally blind, are lectors during the Sunday morning Mass at St. Gabriel Church in Pompano. They are Braille users. 

John McDiarmid allows Dorysped Mancebo of St. Vincent Church in Margate to feel one of the crosses in the collection of Michael McCormack, St. Thomas Aquinas theology teacher and campus minister, during a Lenten experience held back in February for an interfaith group of people living with blindness and visual impairments who gather Saturdays at Lighthouse of Broward.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO | Dolores McDiarmid

John McDiarmid allows Dorysped Mancebo of St. Vincent Church in Margate to feel one of the crosses in the collection of Michael McCormack, St. Thomas Aquinas theology teacher and campus minister, during a Lenten experience held back in February for an interfaith group of people living with blindness and visual impairments who gather Saturdays at Lighthouse of Broward.

Dorysped Mancebo, also totally blind, is an active participant in the youth group Bible study at St. Vincent Church in Margate. She has purchased the book, scanned the material, and downloaded the material onto her portable computer, which she brings to the Bible study. She can read, follow along and actively participate with her peers while enjoying fellowship and spiritual growth.

Lenia Molina Troy, who is visually impaired and a member of St. Anthony Church in Fort Lauderdale, finds much fulfillment with her church family. As a member of the prayer cenacle, she leads the rosary once a week. She uses her Smartphone to bring up the Gospel readings in large print. She also volunteers with the homeless ministry and helps collect items for distribution. During the school year, she and her husband also co-teach fifth grade religious education class.

If you are living with a disability and are involved in your church with any ministry, clubs or events, I hope you will share your experience with us. If you are living with a disability and would like to be more involved in your church, it would also be equally welcoming to hear from you. Looking forward to hearing your stories and comments!

Interested in obtaining a copy of the Buffalo diocese’s DVD? Click here:  or call 716-847-5514.

Dolores Hanley McDiarmid
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Comments from readers

Sister Lidia Valli - 10/16/2013 10:11 PM
Thank you for this interesting blog. At the Marian Center our students and adults with disabilities participate to the Eucharist as lectors, altar servers, and choir members. It is always a deep moment of prayer. We thank our Lord for the opportunity to worship together.
Rosemarie Banich - 10/14/2013 02:24 PM
Wonderful article, Delores! As you know, the Synod addressed the subject of full inclusion for those living with disabilities-I am sure the work of the Buffalo diocese will be a good resource for us here.

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