By STAFF     5/2/2016

The Diocese of Orange Special Needs Council works with the words of Beloved Pope John XXIII in mind:

“In imitation of our Lord, who dedicated much of His ministry to the disabled and the poor, we should give preferential care to those in our community with special needs,” said Beloved Pope John XXIII noted. He declared that “all people were made in the image and likeness of God and an unshakable dignity of every human person innately pours forth,” and said the Church has the responsibility “to uphold the dignity of all those with disabilities who are often invisibly ostracized and considered less dignified because of their disability.”

The Special Needs ministry serves all parishes to help individuals who have physical and intellectual disabilities and developmental delays, as well as their caregivers and families, says Andrea West, co-chair of the Special Needs Council. West says the council concentrates its efforts in three areas: Faith formation, sacramental preparation and socialization.

“We are blessed to have a lot of great people who want to be part of making this ministry as big as others in the Diocese,” West says, adding that many parishes in the Diocese have special needs ministries for children, teens and adults with disabilities.

One example is Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, which offers Coffee House Friends meetings for developmentally challenged adults. St. Bonaventure Parish in Huntington Beach offers sacramental preparation for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and St. Kilian Parish in Mission Viejo offers faith formation and sacramental preparation for teens with Down Syndrome.

An important upcoming event spotlights the efforts of the Special Needs Council: Bishop Kevin W. Vann will celebrate the second annual Mass for Vietnamese Catholics with Special Needs at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 7 in the Christ Cathedral Arboretum. The Mass is celebrated annually to recognize the importance of children, adolescents and young adults with special needs, and to honor their parents, families and caregivers. A reception will follow.

“The Mass is important especially from a cultural point of view because it shows the Vietnamese disabled that they are wanted, understood and celebrated,” West notes. “It shows they belong to the Church.”

For more information, contact the Special Needs Council at 714-282-3039 or [email protected].