As a thank you to God and to honor the beloved gifts from those living with special needs, the Catholics of the Archdiocese gathered for the 12th.th annual white mass celebrated on October 31 in the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, DC
“Today we take a break to honor those who live successfully, fruitfully and joyfully with disabilities in ways that can enrich and inspire all of our lives when they remind us that they are not limited in their humanity by these disabilities, said Washington Cardinal Wilton Gregory during his sermon.
The liturgy to recognize people who are deaf or living with disabilities attracted people of all ages with intellectual and physical disabilities, as well as their families, friends, caregivers, catechists and others working in the parish ministry with special needs. The White Mass is sponsored each year by the Office of the Deaf and Disabilities Ministry of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.
“To all those present here at this White Mass, who enrich the Church with their courage and their gifts, I say, ‘Thank you and God bless you,'” said Cardinal Gregory.
Cardinal Gregory, the main celebrant, was joined in celebrating the Mass by Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, Rector of the Cathedral; Father My Seo Park, the chaplain of St. Francis Deaf Catholic Church and Gallaudet University campus ministry; as well as archdiocese priests and deacons, all wearing white robes to symbolize the connection to all the baptismal vows of those present.
At the beginning of the liturgy, the congregation was blessed with holy water to commemorate their baptismal vows.
Msgr. Jameson welcomed all those present at the White Mass, honoring individuals whom he said Pope Francis describes as “masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his image, destined to live forever and deserve our utmost respect.”
Cardinal Gregory praised those living with special needs for their testimony and willingness to overcome obstacles, while emphasizing the precious treasures they bring to their families and the Church.
“This Sunday, we focus our hearts on the presence and blessing of those members of our faith family who remind us that our human dignity is never lost or impaired by any disability, whether it can be observed by others or perhaps only known. by ourself.” said the cardinal.
Those living with special needs, the cardinal said, should always be valued and treated with dignity and respect by their Catholics.
“God can and always uses every person to draw the human family closer to him and to one another,” he said. “Like an ugly desert where it may seem impossible to produce anything worthwhile, but with the grace of God even such a place can flourish and be filled with life and beauty. We only need to believe that nothing is impossible for God.”
During the White Mass, people who are deaf and those living with disabilities served as speakers, worshipers, and gift carriers. Several Archbishop Catholics involved in the Ministry of Special Needs and those supported by the Ministry of Special Needs, who have passed away, were remembered in the prayers of the faithful: Patricia and James Sullivan, Mattie JT Stepanek, Kathy Buta, Carl and Antoinette Ruppert, Tom Draper , Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Francis and Cubby LaHood, Colleen Welch, Flynn Fry, Evan Finn Gardner, Gina Marie and Nancy Bleggi, Angela Mayer-Whittington, Francis and Cubby LaHood, Maria Gillis, Andrew Vocke and Althea Wallace.
The Mass has a tradition that all participants in the liturgy wear white to symbolize the bonds of community shared through the sacrament of Baptism. In 2017, the American Catholic bishops based theirs Sacramental guidelines for people with disabilities on this primary basis: “Because of their baptism, all Catholics are equal in dignity in the eyes of God and have the same divine calling.”
After the liturgy, Cardinal Gregory spent time greeting dozens of Mass attendants, taking pictures with several disabled people and their family members, and offering them a blessing or words of encouragement.