A Shepherd's Message - Nov. 12, 2013

November 12, 2013

The weekend of Nov. 1 to 3, beginning with the Solemnity of All Saints, was a beautiful one for our Archdiocese.

That weekend, we hosted a national conference of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD). I have been a board member of this very energetic group for some years, and it was a pleasure to welcome so many persons to our local Church.

I was also honored to be able to deliver the keynote address for the Saturday night dinner and to be principal celebrant for the final liturgy on Sunday.

The conference was titled, Partnership 2013: Where Faith and Disability Meet. It was truly an encounter of Catholic Faith and persons of different abilities and disabilities. It was a showcase of accessibility on all levels and was attentive to languages and cultures.

The NCPD has continued to broaden its interests and outreach over the past 30 years, and includes not only care for the human persons with cognitive and physical disabilities, but also those who must deal with autism and mental illness.

The total pro-life witness of the conference was very impressive. There were sessions on the moral and legal issues affecting persons with a disability and the threats that the disabled still face today, especially legislation that targets people with disabilities for death.

There also were excellent catechetical workshops that gave both an orientation and practical tips of catechizing those with particular sensory, cognitive or emotional disabilities.

Pervading the entire conference was something unmistakable: a spirit of great joy and respect for each person present.

Jan Benton has been leading the national group for many years and is perseverant and clear in listening and giving direction to the partnership. Charlene Katra, David Wood and Kathy Kelley — along with staff from many Archdiocesan offices — did a splendid job coordinating the planning and logistics, and giving a beautiful Texas welcome to all our guests, many with intense special and personal needs.

A salute to all the Chancery staff, from catechesis, to liturgy, to communications, etc. It was an impressive witness to the beauty of the human person!

NCPD does much with little resources and reaches out to every diocese in the United States. Its funding must be self-generated.

They work tirelessly to realize sufficient money to keep providing resources for us all. Check them out at www.ncpd.org. At Christmas you can do more than check them out; send them a check!

I will be away for a week or so for the Annual Fall Meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

At its conclusion, I will take over the Committee on Divine Worship as the new Chair. Pray for all the bishops that we have a good meeting. There are some serious issues on the agenda.†