Everyone knows the Golden Rule - the idea to treat others as you would like to be treated.
Who exemplified this better than Jesus Christ Himself? He invited sinners, tax collectors, and people with disabilities to his table.
The Golden Rule Project hopes to reignite the welcoming environment of the church so that
all are treated with love and respect and every person feels a part of the Church.
The Golden Rule Project
The goal of The Golden Rule Project is a simple one: to encourage Catholic parishes to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all people, especially individuals with disabilities.
Here you will find helpful videos, quick tips, pamphlets to help educate your parish on ways to be more welcoming and inclusive.
How to Cultivate a
Welcoming Atmosphere in Your Parish
“...the parish must prepare itself to receive them. This preparation might begin with a census aimed at identifying parishioners and those with no church affiliation who have significant disabilities. Parish leaders could then work with individuals and their families to determine what steps, if any, are needed to facilitate their participation in parish life.” (Pastoral Statement, First printing, November 1978, Fourth printing, August 1998 p.5)
Parish Pamphlet - Encourage all Parishioners to open their hearts to those with disabilities
Weave disability awareness into a homily.
We have heard before of all the miracles that Jesus has done, from healing the blind and making the lame walk, these are examples of how God has always invited those with disabilities into the church and into ministry. Following Jesus‘s example, it is the job of the parish and its members’ to make a more welcoming atmosphere.
In a Pastoral Statement (First printing, November 1978, Fourth printing, 1998), the US Catholic Bishops put out a statement to remind us all that everyone has the right to worship. “Disabled individuals bring with them a special insight into the meaning of life, for they live - more than the rest of us, perhaps - in the shadow of the cross. And out of their experience they forge virtues such as courage, patience, perseverance, compassion and sensitivity that should serve as an inspiration to all Christians.” (Pastoral Statement, First printing, November 1978, Fourth printing, August 1998 p.4)
Some people may worship differently, by flapping their hands or making noises, but they all have the right to sit in the presence of Jesus. We are called to welcome and respect all who come to worship.
QUESTIONS TO REFLECT ON
It is important to reflect on the current involvement of people with disabilities within your parish.
1. Do individuals with disabilities need Jesus any less than anyone else?
2. How can the parish help their families? Make them feel welcome in the Church?
3. How can I make my congregation more welcoming?
4. Do I make my support to those with disabilities and their families known?
5. Are children with disabilities and their families a focus of your outreach efforts?
6. Are families with individuals with disabilities known in your parish?
7. Is your parish just ADA compliant or is it truly accessible to those with disabilities? Does your church barely meet ADA standards or are you fully able to promote inclusion? Accessible parking? Elevator access? Are the entrances and exits accessible to those in wheelchairs? Are there accessible buttons on doors? Accessible ramps? Are the restrooms easy to access? Do they have automatic doors?
Inclusion in the Mass
People with disabilities, like everyone else, have the right to be at mass and be a part of the parish because of their Baptism, “Catholics with disabilities have a right to participate in the sacraments as fully as other members of the local ecclesial community” (U.S. Catholic Bishops).
Here find short helpful videos on ways
to make your church more
welcoming to those with disabilities.
You can use these videos on an individual basis or as a teaching tool in a group setting
to educate priests, deacons, parishioners,