By Andrea Hoisl
The Pontifical Mass for the Partnership on Disability had a few hundred extra members on the planning committee this year!
The students at St. Joseph School in North Grosvenordale played an active role in the Mass as well as the reception. A member of the seventh-grade class, Maya Chojnicki, was a reader at the Mass and a member of the kindergarten class, Kelsey Terranova accompanied by her parents, were the gift bearers. But participation did not stop there - every student made a drawing with a special message about how people with disabilities need and want love and acceptance.
These drawings were laminated and used as placemats for the Pontifical Mass reception. The whole student body participated, and the results were beautiful. Every table at the reception was adorned with four or five colorful placemats that made everyone stop, read and smile.
“The effort the children put into their artwork to spread their caring message was remarkable,” said Karen Caise, planning committee member.
The student body at St. Joseph School took part in a Disability Awareness Program sponsored by the diocese last year, along with six other Catholic schools in the diocese. The theme of the program was “Just Like Me.”
Ian Coyne, a member of the One Heart Ministry group, was the keynote speaker and shared his personal experiences of growing up with a disability with the school community. The day was filled with questions and concerns by students, teachers, support staff and parents. “I felt a great connection to the community at St. Joseph School, they were ever engaged and interested in what it feels like to have a disability,” Ian said.
The partnership with the schools in the disability awareness program was a new addition to this year’s Pontifical Mass for the Partnership on Disability.
“I am so happy that our students were able to participate and enhance the outreach of the disability awareness ministry,” David Sizemore, principal at St. Joseph School, said.
“Our mission states that we are a caring, respectful and nurturing environment, and we want to share that with the larger diocesan community. It was a beautiful liturgy and reception and we are thankful we could be part of it.”