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VIDEO: Creating inclusive environments for people with disability

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"We are called to be inclusive parishes that warmly welcome and acknowledge people with disability and their families on the journey of faith."  (Bishop Terry Brady, the Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Disability, March 2017)
 
In 2017, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, through the Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life released a document providing Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with People with Disability. Prepared in collaboration with the Australian Catholic Disability Council, the guidelines draw upon the Church’s rituals and experience in ministering to or with people with a disability. To help unpack and implement the Principles, a number of practitioners working in parish, school, healthcare and pastoral care networks across the Archdiocese of Melbourne were invited to reflect on how parishes and workplaces can work towards creating more inclusive environments for people with disability. 
 
Key Principles of the Guidelines
  • Celebration and reception of the Sacraments for all
  • Full participation of people with disability and their families in the life of the Church in Australia
  • Access into and within Church buildings
  • Adaptation of catechetical programs
  • Attitudinal change and dispelling myths and misconceptions about disability.

Obtaining a Copy of the Guidelines

The Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation sent a copy of the Guidelines to each parish in the Archdiocese earlier this year. It was sent together with a booklet entitled, Reflection & Response: Welcoming people with Disability (ACBC, 2011). Contact your local Parish Office to access the document or view it online
 

Understanding the Principles and Local Implementation

A range of voices working in parish, school, healthcare and pastoral care networks across the Archdiocese of Melbourne were invited to reflect on how parishes and workplaces can work towards creating more inclusive environments for people with disability. The conversation was facilitated by Mary Ryan, Co-ordinator Adult Faith Formation AOFE. The respondents included:
  • Denise Lacey (Manager, Marriage & Relationship Education, CatholicCare)
  • Fr Kevin McGovern (Parish Priest St Cecilia’s, Camberwell South)
  • Neal Murphy (Group Co-ordinator Social Justice Advocacy, St John of God Health Care)
  • Katrina Mynard (Pastoral Care Co-ordinator, John Pierce Centre for the Deaf Community)
  • Anita Plant (Parishioner, St Francis Xavier, Montmorency) 
  • Kerrie Anne Porreca (Education Officer, Catholic Education Melbourne) 
  • Special thanks to Auslan interpreters Monique and Mark.

I. The Importance of the Parish and School Connection

The ACBC guidelines remind us that: ‘The next place of learning alongside the family, is the parish where catechists and the catholic school assist and provide ongoing faith formation of the child and family.’ (pg 4). 
 
In the following two videos, Kerrie Anne Porreca (Education Officer, Catholic Education Melbourne) and Anita Plant (St Francis Xavier, Montmorency) discuss the importance of the parish-school connection.
 
 
 

II. Promoting an atmosphere of respect and welcome in the workplace

The Guidelines state that parishes, like families, need to exercise and demonstrate some flexibility when ministering to those with a disability. In the next video, Denise Lacey (Manager, Marriage & Relationship Education, CatholicCare) and Neal Murphy (Group Co-ordinator Social Justice Advocacy, St John of God Health Care) discuss the importance of promoting an atmosphere of respect, flexibility and welcome in the parish and the workplace. 
 
 

III. Pastoral Realities and Modelling Good Practice

One of the key principles of the guidelines is: “Full participation of people with disability and their families in the life of the Church in Australia.” In this next video, Fr Kevin McGovern (Parish Priest St Cecilia’s, Camberwell South) discusses the need to model good practice at the parish level.
 
 
In this next video, Katrina Mynard (Pastoral Care Co-ordinator, John Pierce Centre for the Deaf Community) reflects on the need to understand the differences within the deaf community. 
 
 
In the video below, Denise Lacey reflects on the need to strike a balance between making families feel welcome without drawing unnecessary attention to them. 
 
 
In this next video, Fr Kevin McGovern discusses the practical application of the guidelines at a parish level.  
 
 
In the video below, Kerrie Anne Porreca explains the Adaptive Resources for those with a developmental disability, intellectual disability and autism. 
 
 
Below, Katrina Mynard discusses using sign language interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing in our communities.  
 
 
In the video below, Neal Murphy shares how important it is to work with people with disability as well as their family.  
 
 
Through the course of the conversation, Kerrie-Anne Porreca learns of the term "CODA" (Child of a Deaf Adult) which she had not encountered until Katrina Maynard mentioned it. Kerrie-Anne grew up a CODA. 
 
 
NB:
  • CODAs are a community within the Deaf community of proud, unique people who are bilingual - speaking both an oral English and Auslan.
  • They are bicultural, identifying with both deaf and hearing cultures
  • CODAs must navigate the between the deaf and hearing worlds, often serving as liaisons between their deaf parents and the hearing world in which they reside.
  • There is a widespread community of CODAs around the world.  
 

Further Resources

Adaptive Learning Kits
  • ‘Finding God’ RE Program
  • Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit
  • Adaptive Confirmation Preparation Kit
  • Adaptive Reconciliation Preparation Kit
The Adaptive Reconciliation Kit was designed to help individuals with special needs enter fully into their faith experience, prepare for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and use the materials from this kit throughout their lives so they may experience God’s healing through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Created by Loyola Press and available to purchase locally through John Garratt Publishing.
 

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