Stories of Catholics with Disabilities who Benefit from NCPD's Efforts
Preparation for Sacraments
NCPD acts so that children and adults with disabilities can receive the Sacraments and ongoing formation in their faith. NCPD distributes resources and provides online and in-person training to aid catechists in offering appropriate educational support for children and adults with disabilities. NCPD also provides guidance on the criteria for the reception of the Sacraments based on the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, which states "Parents, those who care for persons with disabilities, and shepherds of souls -- especially pastors-- are to see to it that the faithful who have been baptized are properly instructed ... It is important to note, however, that the criterion for reception of Holy Communion is the same for persons with developmental and mental disabilities as for all persons, namely, that the person be able to distinguish the Body of Christ from ordinary food."
This is Noah, a young boy with Down syndrome whose parents chose life over the counsel of their doctors. NCPD is active in promoting the value and dignity of all people, including children identified in the womb or after birth with Down syndrome and other disabilities or potentially lethal conditions. In conjunction with the bishops Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, BeNotAfraid.net, and other organizations, NCPD addresses threats to life posed by such prenatal diagnoses which result in abortion in nine out of ten pregnancies. NCPD provides information and support to couples, clergy, pastoral staff, and medical personnel, seeking to ensure that more children like Noah are given a chance to live to their full potential.
All Catholics have Gifts to Share
Fr. Mike Esswein says Mass from a platform that can be raised and lowered, which enables him to access the altar at an appropriate level. Other Catholics with disabilities likewise have gifts to share, but are often hampered by attitudinal and physical barriers. NCPD seeks to help them overcome these barriers through education and resources on universal design in physical environments and ministry; webinars by architectural experts, individuals with disabilities and pastoral staff; and surveys that enable dioceses and parishes to evaluate the state of their program and physical accessibility. NCPD is currently developing an access manual on physical environments, with the help of an NCPD board member who is an architect and wheelchair user.
Through an agreement with the USCCB, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability is able to offer large print Sacramentaries and Lectionaries to priests and deacons with visual impairment.
This is one of our most popular and appreciated projects. So many priests have expressed their gratitude over the years for this service which enables them to continue their Eucharistic ministry to the Church. "Thanks so much for your immense kindness in preparing all of these materials" we have heard, and many other messages like it!