An invitation each month for individuals with disabilities

The readings were from the Children’s Lectionary and the homily was kept to four minutes. And when the Mass was over there was a scavenger hunt for children and their families.

Each family was given an envelope filled with photographs of sacred objects in the church, such as statues, Stations of the Cross or the tabernacle. The children searched for the objects in the church and the parents explained the meaning behind the object.

It was the Mass of Welcome and Inclusion for Individuals and Families with children with special needs at the Catholic Community of Christ Our Light in Cherry Hill.

The monthly Mass is “more welcoming and inclusive to individuals with disabilities, and their families so that all people can participate in a more meaningful way in the celebration of the Eucharist” said Sister Bonnie McMenamin, co-director of the Diocesan Office of Ministry With the Deaf/Persons with Disabilities.

During the Prayer of the Faithful, Father Thomas Newton, the pastor and celebrant, welcomed and prayed for all those with disabilities, and highlighted the gifts that persons with disabilities bring to the Catholic Church.

In family activities like the scavenger hunt, “the children are free to roam around the church and become more comfortable with the environment.” Sister Bonnie said. “It brings the families together and gives them an opportunity to live the Eucharist by sharing their faith.”

In addition to bringing families together, the community itself is drawn together as the Mass encourages all parishioners to “be supportive, welcoming and aware of those individuals and families with children with special needs.”

The next Inclusion Mass for Families with Children with Special Needs will be celebrated at the Catholic Community of Christ Our Light, Cherry Hill, on Saturday, May 5, at 4:30 p.m.

For more information on Masses of Welcome and Inclusion, contact Sister Bonnie McMenamin, SSJ at bmcmenamin@camdendiocese.org or 856-583-6111.

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