Masses for persons with disabilities held at three locations in diocese
By JoANN AMMANN, Globe Intern
Nov. 2, 2006
Parishioners of the Diocese of Sioux City gathered this past weekend to
celebrate Respect Life Month for persons with disabilities. Three parishes
celebrated with Mass dedicated to those who are disabled.
Masses were held at St. Joseph in Jefferson, St. Thomas Church in Manson and
at the Epiphany Center of Cathedral in Sioux City. People with disabilities were
invited to participate in the Masses by doing various ministries such as
lecturing, greeting and carrying the offertory gifts.
Bishop R. Walker Nickless presided over the Mass held at the Epiphany Center.
The bishop based his homily off of the Scripture readings to tie in the theme of
"One of the qualities that we should have is the ability to hear
others," said Bishop Nickless. "A description of this care of concern
for others is called compassion, all of us should be people of compassion."
According to the bishop, being compassionate means that we truly care for
others and their well-being and that we also care about their needs no matter
your individual situations.
"Whether you are blind or lame, hungry or thirsty or whether you are
rich or poor, the Lord is going to take you back home where you belong because
our God is the God of compassion," said Bishop Nickless.
Bishop Nickless also said that Jesus loves us all, especially people with
disabilities and their family and friends who take care of them.
"God has given all of us who are weak in one way or another a beautiful
opportunity to be saints," said Bishop Nickless. "We are all special
to Jesus, he had compassion for all. Each person is created in a unique likeness
of God and his or her human dignity must be respected and protected. We've got
to be the people who notice them, encourage them, call them forward and thank
them and cherish them."
The bishop went on to finish his homily stating, "We need to accept
those who are different from us, do what we can and show them love and
Father Dennis Meinen celebrated Mass in Manson. In his homily Father Meinen
said that the blind people in society during Jesus' day were overlooked.
"When everyone else around scorns and shuns the blind, or the sick,
Jesus not only cared for them but gave them value," said Father Meinen.
"I don't think anyone expected Jesus to say what he then said to Bartimaeus
after healing him. 'Go on your way, your own faith has saved you.'"
Bev Hurni, director of the Office of Adult and Family Ministry as well as
co-coordinator of the coalition was on hand at two of the Masses.
She found volunteers to do various things for the services and was pleased
with the turnout for all as well as the response from others.
"I was very pleased with it, the bishop's message about compassion was
inspiring and the way he showed that as the family brought up the gifts and when
he put his hand on the boy's face, I found that very touching," said Hurni.
"I was pleased at the number of people that came, there was a general
feeling of comfortableness and welcome, I believe."
Hurni also mentioned that celebrating once a year for people with
disabilities isn't enough, that it should happen throughout the year.
"The parishes were very welcoming and just a joy to see that kind of
spirit. It's one opportunity during the year that we highlight the fact that
there are people with disabilities in our midst and that have needs that we need
to pray for, but they have gifts to offer and we need to invite them to
participate with parish life," said Hurni. "So this is something that
shouldn't just happen one day a year, but throughout the year in the
Hurni added that having Father Meinen's presence is a great witness that
people can rise above their disabilities and still be of service to the church.
Vera Ludwig, diocesan director of family programs and co-coordinator of
coalition, also shared the goal of the coalition.
"Our goal is to have people of all abilities and disabilities recognize
that they have gifts to share with the church and that they are all welcome.
They have the greatest awareness, that everybody has a gift and we are all
invited," said Ludwig.
Sue Wind of St. Joseph Church in Jefferson helped coordinate the disabilities
Mass. The signing choir from New Hope in Carroll was on hand for the Mass.
"I was very pleased with the level of support from our parish, and
grateful for the help that I received from the Knights of Columbus and Catholic
Daughters," said Wind.
The Brian and Maxine Buckmeier family of St. Michael's Parish was asked to
carry the offertory gifts at the Epiphany Center Mass. Their son Adam is
"It's a nice Mass that honors the handicapped and less fortunate people
in the parishes," said Brian Buckmeier. "Adam is just as normal as any
other kid and is just a wonderful kid. He makes you appreciate what you