31/5/09 – A Space for All

Today we conclude the Easter Season with the feast of Pentecost. Our first reading depicts the beginnings of the early Christian community. One of the messages Pentecost has for us is that any human differences are irrelevant, because through the Holy Spirit, we are all part of the one Body of Christ.

Front of our church, with driveway access and ramp for those with limited mobility
Front of our church, with driveway access and ramp for those with limited mobility

Such equality between persons needs to be reflected in the way our liturgical space is designed. We’ve already made a good start with the installation of our “T” switch for those with hearing aids, and driveway and ramp access to our entrance. Yet it has been suggested to us that in a renovated church, more could be done to include those with particular needs related to access and the like. Physical access is part of a broader approach that is focussed on full, conscious and active participation in liturgy by all parishioners, as suggested by the American Bishops:

It is essential that all forms of the liturgy be completely accessible to persons with disabilities, since these forms are the essence of the spiritual tie that binds the Christian community together. To exclude members of the parish from these celebrations of the life of the Church, even by passive omission, is to deny the reality of that community. Accessibility involves far more than physical alterations to parish buildings. Realistic provision must be made for persons with disabilities to participate fully in the eucharist and other liturgical celebrations such as the sacraments of reconciliation, confirmation, and anointing of the sick

(Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities, November 1978; revised 1989).

I recently heard one of our neighbouring parish priests made the comment that our parishes “are very good at welcoming, but not so good at inviting.” There is a difference. How do we invite all people into our space and into full participation in the life of the Church?

Don’t forget that your comments on the recommendations are welcome. You can speak to Frs. Denis or Paul, to any other member of the Liturgy Committee, email us at litcomwenty (at) yahoo (dot) com (dot) au or comment below.

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