Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 1, 2003
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Mass shall focus on being inclusive with the disabled
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
People with disabilities will be the focus of the annual archdiocesan Mass marking the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Speakers will include Archbishop Thomas Collins and Mark Pickup, director of HumanLifeMatters, a ministry that helps churches become more inclusive toward people with disabilities.
The Mass will be held Dec.12 at 7:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church in Spruce Grove.
The archbishop chose the theme of people with disabilities because it deals with the sanctity and dignity of human life, explained Mass organizer John MacDonald, the director of the Family Enrichment Centre.
"He felt this is an area that the Church needs to be able to be upfront and speak very prominently (because) these are beautiful people that deserve the respect and dignity of all other human beings and on an equal footing with all other human beings."
Last year's Mass focused on Project Rachel: Post-Abortion Healing.
"Quite often people with disabilities are marginalized in many of our communities and in many of our considerations," lamented MacDonald. "But these are people that are fully human as much as anyone else. (All life is) very sacred in God's eyes and so these people need to be stood up for because they are quite often left out of the conversation."
Pickup, who will speak at the end of the Mass, said he plans to encourage the congregation to "look at disability not for what it stops us from doing but what it enables us to do as individuals. It enables us to grow in our love for Christ through his mother. I do not know where I would have been had not Christ been with me every step of the way."
Pickup, incurably ill and disabled with chronic, progressive multiple sclerosis for the past 20 years, has become a voice against euthanasia, physician assisted suicide and embryonic stem cell research. He wants churches to expand their outreach ministries to the disabled to include them in Church life.
"The disabled teach us how to love," he said. "That's what their gift to the Church is, to expand our ability to serve the human family in its entirety."
Pickup founded HumanLifeMatters (HLM) last year in response to what he calls Church ineptitude with disability inclusion. He says everywhere he goes he finds people hurt by disabilities who are either disenfranchised from their church or their faith. The goal of HLM is to facilitate, promote and assist parishes to develop effective disability ministries that affirm the value and dignity of human life.
The group, which recently became a referral agency for the Edmonton Archdiocese, has developed a comprehensive church accessibility audit to make church facilities more user friendly.
Catholic parishes are generally doing well when it comes to accessibility, although some things still need improvement, Pickup noted. A case in point is his own parish in
Beaumont, which built a ramp to facilitate access to people in wheelchair into the church.
The problem is "we can't use the washrooms when we get in because the washrooms are downstairs," he lamented.
Details like this would be revealed very quickly in the church accessibility audit offered by HLM, he noted.
HLM also offers workshops on disabilities as well as assistance with policy papers on disability issues. More information on HLM can be found on humanlifematters.com
"Everybody is being invited to the Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe," MacDonald said.
"We would like as many people to come as possible. And we are certainly hoping that people with disabilities will be drawn to the celebration."