We encourage Councils to work with their Pastor, as well as designated members of parish staff, to organize and conduct an annual Mass for people with special needs (intellectual and developmental disabilities). This can be an invaluable opportunity to welcome families of special needs children and adults who might not normally feel comfortable coming to a regularly scheduled Mass. It will also assist a parish in welcoming these families to become more comfortable and involved in participating in regular Masses.
The Mass for People with Special Needs can be held at your local parish or a Council Hall. Invite representatives of local support organizations such as S.P.R.E.D. (Special Religious Education Department or similar program in your Diocese or Parish) or Special Olympics to participate and be recognized. You might have a reception afterwards to allow parishioners and families with special needs children and adults to meet each other, and to explain parishioners how they might get involved in local programs that help serve this often-neglected segment of our parish communities. If you have a raffle or a second collection, those funds could be used to support people with special needs by gifting their represented organizations, or by providing these funds to the Columbian Foundation of the California Knights of Columbus or other local, state, and national organizations.
A Mass for Catholics with Special Needs could be held working closely, for example, with organizers such as S.P.R.E.D., the Special Olympics, or The ARC, to offer opportunity to allow people to attend and actively participate.
I look forward to hearing from Brothers with experience to collaborate on this program and share with our State Councils their experiences and successes in putting on similar Masses or programs related to special needs in their parishes.
Fraternally – For Life!
Dennis J. LaFlam, Chairman