Four parishes within the Archdiocese of Newark have resumed celebrating Masses specifically adapted for persons with disabilities, including one parish in Hudson County.
Though parishioners with disabilities are welcome and encouraged to attend their local parish Masses every week, these Inclusive Family Masses are offered to accommodate anyone who feels uncomfortable at the prospect of their loved one with a disability making noise or moving around at inopportune moments. The monthly Masses are facilitated by the archdiocesan Department for Pastoral Ministry with Persons with Disabilities.
The Masses are shorter, and some do not have music because some individuals with disabilities find it unpleasant. The Archdiocese hopes that Inclusive Family Masses foster a sense of acceptance and solidarity among families impacted by disability and also facilitate comfort participating in their parish’s regularly scheduled Masses.
One of the four parishes offering the Masses is in Hudson County. San Agustín at 3900 New York Avenue in Union City will offer the Inclusive Family Masses in Spanish at 5 p.m. on Nov. 13, Dec. 11, Jan. 8, Feb. 12, March 12, April 9, and May 14. For more information, call 201-863-0233.
“Celebrating the Eucharist is an essential part of our Catholic faith, but many individuals with disabilities and those who love them don’t attend Mass because they may have had a bad experience,” said Anne Masters, Director of the Department for Pastoral Ministry with Persons with Disabilities, in a statement. “We’re incomplete as the body of Christ if anyone stays away. We offer the Inclusive Family Masses so they don’t have to worry about making extra noises or the need to move around. This ministry exemplifies our Church’s care and concern about all families.”
A spreading success
The Inclusive Family Masses, which are offered annually from September through June, originated in 2006 as an initiative of the Church of the Nativity in Midland Park. After seeing the parish’s success connecting with congregation members with disabilities, the Archdiocese brought the Masses to several of its other parishes in 2008, including San Agustín in Union City.
Inclusive Family Masses have resulted in several success stories, with individuals with a disability becoming so comfortable attending the Inclusive Family Mass that they return to the regular liturgy, according to Masters. They have also encouraged people to complete Sacraments of Initiation, whereas before they felt excluded from this possibility. Additionally, they have nurtured comfort with new roles in the liturgy, such as Altar Server, and leadership possibilities such as training other Altar Servers.
“We’re all created in the image of God, and we’re all called to live out our baptismal promise in terms of reflecting God’s image of love in our lives,” Masters said. “These Inclusive Family Masses do that by breaking down walls of attitudinal and environmental barriers. Once persons with disabilities feel comfortable attending their regular parish Mass after attending the Inclusive Family Mass, the rest of the parish community can get to know them and know that all should be equally valued and welcomed. Some of our parish communities may need help with practicing this.”
For more information about Inclusive Family Masses, go online to www.rcan.org/disabilities.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.