Bengaluru: For the first time probably in the country, St Patricks Church in Bangalore brought the children with disabilities together with the the Church community for a Christmas program. In order to create an inclusive Church with equal opportunities for the persons with disabilities, a Christmas program was organised in Archdiocese of Bangalore today coordinated by the Commission for the differently abled.
The fully packed 11 am Holy Mass at St Patricks was very special today with the Mass being led by the differently abled children. The visually challenged students from Jyothi Seva led the choir, rendering heart touching music, with a completely blind student at the organ. First reading was done by Ms Elisa from Jyothi Seva, who is visually challenged. The second reading was done by Master Prajwal from Sophias Opportunity school for the intellectually challenged students. The offertory procession had students from other centres like Assisi Special School, St Joseph’s Nivas special school, Christ special school and Cottolengo special school.
Bangalore is the only Diocese in the country that has a commission for the differently abled persons. Having done exclusive programs for them in the pastoral centre, it was felt that linking the differently abled with the christian community is the most important aspect for inclusion. Thus the Christmas celebration was conducted at the St Patricks Church.
Fr George Kannanthanam, Secretary for the commission for the differently abled, reminded during the homily that Jesus included giving sight to the blind in his mission statement (Lk 4/18). Following his example, Pope Francis has always keen interest to spent time with differently able people and promote their cause. Inclusive Church is the goal, in which we have the differently abled involved in all aspects of the life in the Church.
Fr George said that based on the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Persons with disabilities in 2006, Indian Government has passed the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act in 2016. This has made it mandatory for all the public buildings, including the Churches and its institutions, to be accessible for the persons with disabilities. Apart from creating accessible buildings, the Church has to ensure the involvement of the differently abled in its liturgy, administration and programs.
Fr C Francis, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Bangalore presided over the special mass and gave away the gifts for all the differently abled persons. Members of the commission, youth group and Vincent De Paul society of St Patricks worked together to provide a good atmosphere for the differently abled to have a meaningful and enjoyable Christmas.
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