Calling people with disabilities “our teachers who show us what is essentially important as we go through this life,” Bishop Ronald Gainer celebrated the Diocese’s annual Mass Celebrating the Gifts of People with Disabilities on Oct. 24. Held in a different church in the Diocese each year, this year’s Mass was celebrated at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Quarryville, Lancaster County.
The special liturgy is traditionally a time when people with disabilities are invited to share their gifts, whether as greeters, altar servers, lectors, or during the Presentation of the Gifts. The Mass, which was made available via livestream on the Diocese’s YouTube Channel, also featured a sign-language interpreter.
When judging a person’s worth, “Society would make us think that it’s about productivity,” the bishop said in his homily. “How productive is your life? How influential is your life? How successful is your life? Those standards don’t work in the eyes of God. People with disabilities remind us that we are made in the image and likeness of God; that is our dignity, that is the sanctity of every one of our lives.”
Directly addressing persons with disabilities, Bishop Gainer told them, “You are our teachers. You remind us, when we get too easily confused or forget, what is truly essential in the eyes of God. And you teach those in particular who take care of you – your moms and dads, family members, care givers. You teach virtue. You bring forth from their hearts a compassion, a dedication, a love that would not be there if you were not in their lives. You have taught those virtues that are so important in the Kingdom of God.”
The Mass is annually sponsored by the Diocesan Office of Ministry with People with Disabilities, which works toward full participation of people with disabilities and their families in all aspects of the life of the Church. For more information about their programs, visit www.hbgdiocese.org/disabilities-ministries/ or contact Larry Kiley, director, at email@example.com.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)