Diocesan disabilities commission to sponsor three Masses to raise awareness
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
October 12, 2006
Since the Jubilee Year 2000, the Diocese of Sioux City has held two Masses
during Respect Life Month for persons with disabilities. This year three Masses
will be celebrated later this month.
Sponsored by the Coalition for Ministry with Persons Having Disabilities, the
Masses this year are slated for 5:30 p.m., Oct. 28 at St. Joseph Church in
Jefferson with Father Don Ries as celebrant; 10 a.m. on Oct. 29, at St. Thomas
Church in Manson with Father Dennis Meinen as principle celebrant and Father
Richard Ries concelebrating; and 5 p.m. on Oct. 29 at Cathedral of the Epiphany
with Bishop R. Walker Nickless presiding.
According to Bev Hurni, director of the Office of Adult and Family Ministry
and co-coordinator of the coalition, the purpose of the Masses are two-fold.
"We want to pray for people with disabilities and we want to raise
awareness that not only do they have needs but they also have gifts that they
can offer to the parish," she said. "We would like for them to share
in the liturgical roles that they are able to."
Vera Ludwig, diocesan director of family programs and co-coordinator of the
coalition, stressed the fact that all people are part of the same community. All
people are part of the same flock with the same shepherd.
"We like for persons with disabilities to share their gifts and
recognize that everyone has gifts regardless of their disabilities or abilities.
That is incredibly important. We are all called - through our baptism - to share
our gifts," she said.
They noted that these persons may have visible or invisible disabilities and
they may be physical or mental disabilities.
In past years, persons with disabilities have served as greeters, gift
bearers, lectors, song leaders and more. Once again, persons with disabilities
from New Hope Village in Carroll will provide a sign choir at the Jefferson
Mass, a parishioner from Manson will provide signing at St. Thomas and Connie
Barrett of Sioux City will sign at the Cathedral liturgy.
They mentioned that it was one of the goals of the coalition to add an extra
Mass and location this year.
Ludwig said because they want to raise awareness, these liturgies are
intentionally held at regular weekend Masses to reinforce the point that they
are all one community.
"No matter how often we get information out there, there are still some
people who might not know about the work of the coalition. It is a continual
process of raising awareness. Maybe someone who didn't have any disabilities got
sick and now they have one. They might not have paid attention to the fact that
we have these Masses, but now they have a need and now they need support or
community," she noted.
Hurni added that studies reveal that one family in three has a family member
with a disability.
"And certainly as our population ages, we will have more people with
disabilities," she said. "It's part of the human condition."
Catholics with disabilities, their families and all interested persons are
invited to attend as well as parishioners from these parishes.
Hurni mentioned that there will be a reception or meal following each Mass.
If persons with disabilities would like to participate at these Masses, they
can call Sue Wind in Jefferson at (515) 386-3405, Suzanne Torrey in Manson at
(712) 445-2532 or Hurni in the Office of Adult and Family Ministries in Sioux
City at (712) 233-7531.