Inclusion Sunday: Celebrating Parish Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities

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Surrusco, Richard
Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology
In early 2007 the Parish Advocacy Network for the Diocese of Richmond was developed in response to the challenge articulated by the American Bishops. Moving beyond ‘sloganeering’, the diocese developed a recruitment and training strategy designed to create a network of parish-based advocates for the disabled. This pastoral initiative focused on new ways for communities to minister to each other, heightening parish awareness of those with special needs, and integrating three key components: the accessibility to participation in our shared Christian life, the authenticity of this ministry to the disabled rooted in the Eucharist, and the accuracy of witness that results from combining religious conviction with evidence and reasoned argument. To further encourage and support the inclusion of persons with disabilities as well as to recognize the gifts and talents of the men and women who advocate for them, parishes throughout the Richmond diocese joined together in celebrating Inclusion Sunday on June 15, 2008. One parish within the Richmond diocese, Our Lady of Nazareth Church, planned and implemented this Sunday community celebration, and in the process developed a template of shared Christian living for every Sunday...indeed, for every day.