Thirty years ago, the U.S. Catholic Bishops issued a Pastoral Statement on People with Disability, illustrating that, because of their baptism into the Catholic Church, Catholics with disabilities had every right to exercise their faith, to be integrated into the worship of the church and to be accommodated by their churches.
Now, every year, in order to recognize those goals, churches in the Syracuse area hold a Disability Awareness Celebration.
This year, the celebration was held at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Liverpool.
"We chose St. Joseph's for this year's mass for several reasons," said Fred Fusco, director of the Offices for People with Disabilities in the Syracuse Diocese. "It can accommodate people with disabilities, it's centrally located and near the New York State Thruway and one of our advisory board members is a parishioner and was willing to take on the work of organizing it."
The mass was part of Disability Awareness Weekend, a Diocese-wide event that takes place annually.
"It's a time each year when we ask each parish of the diocese to call special attention to the needs and abilities of parishioners who are disabled and their families," Fusco said. "For the weekend, our diocesan committee prepares a packet of materials that get sent to each parish for its use in the weekend liturgy. The packet consists of four bulletin announcements to begin four weeks before the weekend, music for the mass, suggestions for homilies, Prayer of the Faithful and other ideas -- like making a banner -- that we hope will add to the celebration."
The event itself, which took place on Sunday Sept. 7, featured biblical readings by people with disabilities, liturgy led by Bishop Thomas Costello (in place of Bishop James Moynihan, who is recovering from surgery) and a homily by Fusco focusing on the anniversary of the issuance of the pastoral statement.