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On February 25, 2018, members of our Disability Inclusion Ministry members celebrated Mass by serving as Lectors, Musicians, Eucharist Ministers and more. Julie Fitchitt, a member of the ministry, shared her reflection on the first Disability Inclusion Ministry Mass & Reception.

A Reflection by Julie Fitchitt

Through prayer and advocacy, in a voice that speaks out for education and respect for everyone, the Disability Inclusion Ministry of Saint Patrick Catholic Church helps people with disabilities to participate in parish activities of their choice.

The masses on Sunday morning, February 25, 2018 had members of the Inclusion Ministry in the church vestibule greeting those attending the masses, processing up to the altar with Father Jerry Graham, S.J., sitting in a specially designated area in the front of the church, serving as lectors and presenting the gifts at the offertory.  After each Mass, the Disability Inclusion Ministry sponsored a reception.

To set the stage for our special receptions several members of the ministry, assisted by Dan Skeldon and Mike Lohnes from our Stephen Ministry, moved tables and decorated the Church Hall.  It was a fun time for everyone!

The tables were covered with white tablecloths and flowers, Disability Inclusion Ministry brochures and a special quote from Helen Keller, “I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work and my God.”

Father Jerry Graham’s homily included some very wise words about the ways in which our parish family can reach out to those of us in the parish who are disabled.  Then, he asked for all those in the congregation with a disability to stand.  At first only three or four people stood up.  Then he asked everyone with hearing problems to stand, then those with glasses and soon as the list of disabilities, great and small, were called out, nearly everyone in the congregation was standing.

[Click on the play button to listen to the homily!]

It was a wonderful, spirit-filled mass and set the tone for the reception.  The members of the Inclusion Ministry, thanks to the generous spirit of all the volunteers, were able to go out among the people who were enjoying their coffee and doughnuts and introduce themselves to those they did not know, renew old acquaintances, visit with those they know well and in general just be visible to our community.

We would like to give a special word of thanks to Devin W. , Rendayle, Devin and Taylor, our kitchen crew, and to all the volunteers from the Stephen Ministry:  to Regina Keller and her children, Katie, Joseph, and Charlie and Max Kopchynski, who helped serve the doughnuts and coffee and stayed to the end to clean up; for Penny Melton who picked up the doughnuts and helped the kitchen crew set up before the 8:30 crowd arrived for the reception; for Mary Kay Firestine for arriving bright and early to offer encouragement and instruction to the kitchen crew before the 8:30 mass; for Laura and Alex Sanchez who arrived after the 8:30 mass ready to help with anything anyone needed, and, finally, for Dan Skeldon and Mike Lohnes, who pitched in to help wherever they were needed both Saturday and Sunday especially moving tables, shopping for supplies and providing rides for the Inclusion Ministry members who would otherwise not have been able to attend and participate in the event. The Stephen Ministers really stepped up to support us!  

A special shout out to Molly Lane and Noreen Deruette (the ‘funeral ladies’) whose expertise in putting on receptions and coffee and doughnut social hours was invaluable. And last but certainly not least, the staff at the parish center for their help and support for this event from start to finish. Truly, we could not have done it without all these special people! Thank you for everything you do to widen our welcome and make our liturgies the work of all God’s people. 

Members of the Inclusion Ministry (Don Grainger, Barbara Simpson, Elizabeth Patterson, Loren Parkhill, Terri Staeheli, Rosalie McKinney, Joanne Girolami, Scott and Carolyn Jenkins and Julie Fitchitt) were able to attend and participate in the mass and reception with joy and without stress because of all the help and support these volunteers provided. We missed those members who were not with us due to illness: Dan Webster, Marlene Trunk and Lynn Swanson. 

Thank you for listening, seeing us and allowing us to serve Christ with you. The Inclusion Ministry is looking forward to hosting another mass in the future.

Learn more about the Disability Inclusion Ministry

Disability Inclusion Ministry

253-274-4109

ldougherty@saintpats.org