Ministry with Persons with Disabilities


Catechesis and Formation

Shouldn’t all students with disabilities be in a special, separate class?
No. Each student should be placed in the most inclusive environment possible. The strengths and limitations of each individual as well as the gifts their presence offers the entire community should be the determining factors in deciding which environment is most appropriate. It is recommended that all students attend religious education classes at the same time and in the same place as their peers.   

Can clusters of parishes collaborate to provide a segregated class?                
The pastoral implications of clusters of parishes combining students in one segregated class should be carefully considered. It may be convenient if a small group needs a catechist with specialized training, but there should be no question that this arrangement is in the best interest of the students. Isolating individuals apart from their local faith community is a serious decision that should not be made lightly. Students taught in segregated settings should be included in any recreational activities. People with disabilities should also receive the sacraments in their own parish with age appropriate peers.  

Do students with disabilities require specially trained catechists?                
While the need for catechists with specialized training may be true in some cases, it is not the norm. Catechists can help people with disabilities grow in relationship with God and learn more about the Catholic faith with little or no more specialized skill than it takes to be successful with any students. An open mind, a loving spirit, an understanding heart, a knowledge of faith, and a desire to witness to the activity of God in their lives are key characteristics of a good catechist. Teaching techniques can be improved with additional study and learning.  

What texts should I use? 
Using the same text used by other participants in the program is recommended, with adaptions and/or augmentation when necessary. The primary goals of each lesson can be identified and then the material presented in a fashion appropriate to the student’s abilities.  

What about sacramental preparation and reception?                                       
The U.S. Catholic Bishops approved the revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities in June of 2017. The guidelines offer a set of general principles to provide access to the sacraments for people with assorted disabilities. It is highly recommended that copies of this document be obtained, studied, and the guidelines followed in every parish in the Archdiocese of Boston. Ministers are not to refuse the sacraments to those who ask for them at appropriate times, who are appropriately disposed and who are not prohibited by law from receiving them. (Canon 843.1)  

Catechetical Resources