Diocese of Joliet

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Special Needs/Disabilities Ministry in the Diocese

Every person, no matter what their abilities, has the right to a full life in the Church and the support of family, parish and community. This includes those living with mental illness. The Diocese of Joliet is an inclusion diocese - we believe that the first choice for children and youth should be to integrate them into the ordinary religious education programs of the parish, making the appropriate modifications. However, we also know that is not always possible, so parishes are urged to work with families to discern what is best. There are some regional programs in parishes able to serve families of those who need to be in a special separate program. Find parish faith formation services near you. 

Evangelization and catechesis for persons with disabilities must be geared in content and method to their particular situation.  Specialized catechists should help them interpret the meaning of their lives and should give witness to Christ’s presence in the local community in ways they can understand and appreciate.  We hasten to add, however, that great care be taken to avoid further isolation of persons with disabilities through these programs which, as far as possible, should be integrated with normal catechetical activities of the parish.
(Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities)

Learn more and find resources:
Special Needs general issues - Secretary for Pastoral Concerns, Peter Newburn  pnewburn@dioceseofjoliet.org  (815) 221-6238
Mental Illness in the Parish     

Special Needs Faith Formation Policies & Procedural Guidelines from Faith Formation in the Diocese of Joliet: Word or PDF
More information about special needs religious education: Joyce Donahue jdonahue@dioceseofjoliet.org or call (815) 221-6146

Annual Bishop's Mass with Persons With Disabilities

Each year, normally in October, the Diocese of Joliet gathers people of all ages who are living with disabilities from around the diocese to celebrate a special affirmative liturgy together, followed by a luncheon provided by the Knights of Columbus. Our site, Holy Family Catholic Church in Shorewood, is fully accessible. The next Disabilities Mass is October 2015.

Deaf Ministry

Deaf Apostolate Website

There are three monthly signed Masses with the deaf community that are offered in the diocese.  One is offered the first Sunday of the month at St. Isidore in Bloomingdale at 12:30 p.m.  The second Mass is offered the third Sunday of the month at St. Mary Immaculate in Plainfield at 11:30 p.m.  The third Mass is offered at St. Thomas the Apostle in Naperville the 1st Sunday of the month at 9:00 a.m. 

There are other parishes that have interpreted Masses with varying regularity in the diocese.   The newest of these is a weekly interpreted Mass on at Christ the King Parish, 1501 S. Main Street in Lombard every week at 10 a.m. For additional information, contact the parish at (630)629-1717.  Look up in this schedule for other parishes for Signed/Interpreted Mass.

It is important to know there is a difference between an interpreted Mass and a signed Mass.  An interpreted Mass is when the interpreter does everything and a signed Mass is when the priest signs and the deaf participate fully in the liturgy.

If you are in need of an interpreter and are unable to find one, or if you know of one who is willing to be of service, please contact the appropriate person on the Deaf Apostolate website for a parish in your area.

Children of Mary Support Group
Children of Mary is a social and support group for teens and young adults with disabilities. They meet once a month for spiritual refreshment and an outing. The group is headquartered at Corpus Christi Parish in Carol Stream, but anyone with disabilities from any area of the diocese is welcome.

General Resources for Special Needs

SERVICES
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet Aging and Disability Services
Easter Seals, Joliet Region (includes Morris and Bradley) - Services
Easter Seals, DuPage/Fox Valley - Programs and Services
Xavier Society for the Blind

CATECHETICAL RESOURCES
Listing of Parish Special Needs Programs and Services
Special Needs Registration Form
USCCB Guidelines for Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities
Celiac Disease, Alcohol Intolerance, and the Church's Pastoral Response
National Apostolate for Inclusion Ministry Info Sheets (Catechetical Tips & More!)
National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities Webinars (recorded versions of past events,resource and methodology handouts)
Special Needs Curriculum list (RTJ's Creative Catechist)
Loyola Press - Special Needs Ministry Web Center
St. Mary Curriculum For Students With Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities
Book, Booklet, and Curriculum Resources -   Word    PDF
Homeschooling Resources for Parents of Children with Disabilities
Vatican Conference on "Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities"

OTHER
Being Sensitive: "Handicap" or "Disability"?
Ability Production - Online and Media Resources
Recommended books:
Autism and Your Church

GIANT HERO - One couple's journey through loving and letting go of a son with Potter's Syndrome (Disabilities/Pro-Life)
Told by Angie and Cecil Bellephant, Written by Tracy Ahrens (Kankakee, IL)

Inspirational Videos: