Catholic Disability Teachings and Resources

boy alter server carrying crucifix for processional

 Catholic Teachings

USCCB Pastoral Statement of Persons with Disabilities (1978)

  • The Church's response to the person with disabilities:   Concern for persons with disabilities was one of the prominent notes of Jesus earthly ministry.  Just as the Church must do all in its power to ensure persons with disabilities a secure place in the human community, so it must reach out to welcome gratefully those who seek to participate in the ecclesiastical community.
  • A video training done by the Archdiocese of  Washington titled 40th Anniversary of USCCB Pastoral Statement on Persons with Disabilities at 17:30 minute gives a history lesson stating: "When American Disabilities act was introduced the Pastoral Statement was quoted on the floor of the Senate by one of the sponsoring senators who was reading from the US Bishops letter of support for the legislation.  The letter quoted from paragraphs 10 and 11 of the Pastoral Statement noting “it is not enough to merely affirm the rights of people with disabilities we must actively work to realize these rights in the fabric of modern society”.  Clearly through the Catholic Church through this statement was leading the way for people with disabilities."

Affirmation and Commitment to the call of the 1978 Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities (2018)

  • A Call to Encounter and to Wholeness:  A Resolution Issued by the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) on the 40th Anniversary of the Pastoral Statement. 

USCCB Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments for Persons with Disability (Revised edition 2017)

  • Guidelines written in order to give a more concrete expression to our longstanding concern for a "realistic provision" for the means of access to full sacramental participation for Catholic persons with disabilities.  
  • NCPD is pleased to announce that FREE print copies are available in Spanish in quantities of 10-100.  Shipping and handling costs fees are applicable. 

To order Spanish copies
To download a form to order Spanish copies

USCCB Pastoral Statement on the Blessings of Age and Growing Older Within the Faith Community

Inspired by this challenge, we, the U.S. Catholic bishops, offer this reflection on the experience of growing older within the faith community. We speak out of profound gratitude for the many ways in which faithful and generous older Catholics have built—and continue to build—the Church. We write as learners who together with older persons explore the period that some now call the "third age." We learn from the many cultural heritages of our older people. Various customs, traditions, and contributions tremendously enrich the Church. We write as pastors who cherish the whole person, with his or her gifts and talents as well as limitations and vulnerabilities. We stand firm in opposing euthanasia, assisted suicide, and all that threatens the dignity and sacredness of human life.

In this pastoral message, we address the entire faith community, but we speak a special word to (1) older people themselves, (2) caregivers, (3) the parish faith community—pastors, staff, volunteers, and all parishioners, and (4) younger adults.

We All Belong Brochure

NCPD provides a "We All Belong" brochure that communicates that the Catholic Church earnestly desires the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in the sacramental life of the Church. Many do not know the Church's teaching in this area.

NCPD hopes that this brochure will lead Catholics to discover the teaching of the Church and an increased participation of Catholics with disabilities in the sacraments and parish life. This brochure is ideally suited for distribution at parishes, where those who would benefit from it are most likely to find it, including parishioners with disabilities, their parents and friends, catechists, catechetical leaders, and clergy.

The brochure highlights key principles from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's document, Guidelines to the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities (Sacramental Guidelines), 2017 Revised Edition. 

Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities a Framework of Access and Inclusion/A Statement of the US Bishops (1998)

  • A moral framework of access and inclusion based upon Catholic documents and serves as a guide for contemplation and action. We hope that the reaffirmation of the following principles will assist the faithful in bringing the principles of justice and inclusion to the many new and evolving challenges confronted by persons with disabilities today.
 Catholic Resources--National/International

National Catholic Partnership on Disability

  • Rooted in Gospel values that affirm the dignity of every person, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) works collaboratively to ensure meaningful participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of the life of the Church and society. 
  • NCPD staff, board, and council members work with Catholics across the country to offer a disability perspective to Catholic organizations and events.
  • NCPD promotional video on who we are including history, mission, and staff.
  •  Role of NCPD and their partnership with V Encuentro


National Catholic Office for the Deaf

  • The National Catholic Office for the Deaf (NCOD) is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting Pastoral Ministry with persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
  • NCOD implements its ministry by collaborating with Bishops, diocesan leaders and pastors; by providing support to ordained and lay pastoral workers in Deaf Ministry and by assisting catechists and families with deaf children. NCOD is a clearinghouse of information and creates special media resources for Deaf Catholics

International Catholic Deaf Association- U.S.

  • ICDA-US is an organization of Catholic deaf people and hearing people in the church working with the deaf in the United States of America.
 Catholic Health Care

Catholic health care is a ministry of the Catholic Church continuing Jesus' mission of love and healing in the world today. Comprised of more than 600 hospitals and 1,600 long-term care and other health facilities in all 50 states, the Catholic health ministry is the largest group of nonprofit health care providers in the nation. At the national level, these organizations join together in the Catholic Health Association of the United States. In CHA, the ministry raises a collective passionate voice for compassionate care.

 Catholic School Inclusion Organizations 
  • Catholic Schools Funding ModelsNon-profit 501(c)3 organizations from a variety of dioceses that assist schools to support the creation and expansion of special education instruction and programs in Catholic Schools and share resources.
  •   Catholic Coalition for Special Education mission is to advocate for and facilitate an appropriate, inclusive, high quality education for students with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore region Catholic schools to enrich their lives, schools, and the broader community.
  •    Catholic Inclusion Services mission is to accompany you on your inclusion journey, to help guide and support you as you open your doors to the children of God who learn differently and need some extra support.    The services we offer are individualized to you and your school’s needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution;  Inclusion is done differently at each school, and each school has its own character, history and personality. 
  •  Fire Foundation is an independent 501(c)3 organization, makes it possible for partner Catholic schools to hire special educators and paraprofessionals and to acquire learning materials and technology that create successful learning experiences for all children. FIRE also provides professional development opportunities on a range of inclusive education topics for educators.
  •  Inclusion Solutions equips schools with skills and knowledge to educate all learners. We help remove obstacles, accompany schools through challenges, and provide solutions to a variety of educational issues.  We will work with schools to create excellence in teaching and learning, while realizing the fullness of the school's mission.
  • One Classroom  is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit foundation dedicated to creating inclusive Catholic educational opportunities for children with special needs in the Saint Louis Archdiocese. We believe every child deserves a Catholic education in their local parish school in full community with their peers!
  • Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) envisions Catholic schools that are prepared to educate all children regardless of academic, behavioral, social, emotional, or physical need. We seek to equip Catholic schools with a culture, a foundation, and resources for inclusive education. (Available through the University of Notre Dame.)  Catholic schools are called to serve justly and inclusively ensuring success for all learners. We believe all are welcome, creating a vibrant, Christian community that celebrates the God-given potential of every student.
  • The National Catholic Board for Full Inclusion has a vision of full inclusion in Catholic schools for students with disabilities. Our mission is to inspire schools to begin the process of becoming inclusive, to educate teachers, parents, principals and priests on what it takes to be an inclusive school and to provide the educational research and real life experiences that support it.
 Deaf Ministry Resources

                                                                                    women doing ASL

  • ASL Resources for Interpreting the Mass for interpreters from Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministry with Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Resources for Parishes working with ASL interpreters and understanding Deaf Ministry. (scroll down to access them)
  • ASL YOUCAT videos available from Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. These are videos done with ASL interpreting and captioning for people who are deaf to have access to materials for Catholics to grow in their faith. You can go to the Archdiocese of Kansas City Deaf Ministry website to contact them and subscribe to being added to their email list of weekly links to videos.
  • Camp Mark 7 offers an array of recreational, educational, leadership and spiritual programs for deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing individuals of all ages.
  • Deaf Apostolate resources:
  1. Boston Deaf Apostolate
  2. Archdiocese of Chicago
  3.  Archdiocese of Detroit
  4.  Archdiocese of Milwaukee
  5. Archdiocese of Philadelphia

  6. Archdiocese of San Francisco/St. Benedict Parish for the Deaf

  7. Diocese of Rockford

  • Religious American Sign Language Week is a program is intended for Priests, deacons and seminarians who work with the Deaf Community;  Working interpreters who have been certified (or qualified in their state); Deaf ASL Lectors (members of the Deaf community who are now doing the readings for Sunday liturgies).  Participants will learn from very qualified instructors: Msgr. Glenn Nelson, Deacon Patrick Graybill and Joan Macy.  The entire event will take place at the Bishop Lane Retreat Center in Rockford, Illinois.
 Other Catholic Resources
                                                                                          Women, one child standing, one child in wheelchair with words "The Gift of Life."

Accepting the Gift

  • Accepting the Gift is run by Catholic special needs parents just like you.
  • We know first hand the unique challenges that come from parenting a child with special needs. We are the parents of children with autism, learning disabilities, genetic conditions, physical disabilities, and everything in between. We're sharing our stories, advice, and encouragement to help you not only survive, but thrive, and find JOY, in your vocation as a special needs parent. We see you. You are not alone. 

  • You can join their Facebook Group, and Instagram group, , where they connect families. They have been praying the rosary a few times a month on Instagram and they will soon be releasing a new curriculum for home-based religious education.  Check them out.


Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers (ACMHM)

  • A Lay Association of the Christian Faithful whose members are called to be a healing presence in the lives of people with mental illness. Members of the ACMHM see Christ in those who live with a mental illness. Members practice a ministry of service and presence; like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), they do not look the other way or walk past those living with a mental illness but instead pour the oil and wine of the Gospel into their lives.  Members walk with people living with a mental illness to help them find the support and services that they need. 

Autism Consecrated:  Living the Way of St. Thorlak

  • When we recall that our value to the community does not come from what we can or cannot do, but what Christ can do through us…we begin to see the eyes of autism through the eyes of God.
  • St. Thorlak modeled that consecrating our weaknesses does not give us strength or popularity…it allows Christ’s power to be revealed in our lives, and manifested as His Loving Presence in the community.  In striving to follow the way of St. Thorlak, may we also witness Christ’s power perfected in us, and discover the gift of autism, consecrated.

  • Open letter to my Beloved Church:  by Fr. Mark Nolette who is an autistic Catholic priest. In his article he shares the statistic that 80% of autistic Christians do not attend services in their local church.  Using his logical brain, he asks “Shouldn’t this group be a prime focus of the New Evangelization!  The harvest is indeed rich.  Where are the laborers?” 

  • St. Thorlak Virtual Cafe is a way to offer hospitality within their means for people with autism who thrive on both interacting with our community and the extra processing space allowed by typewritten communication.  They believe this is a way to experience meaningful connection in a non-traditional way and this “café” page is a way of demonstrating that.

    Autistic Priest: Fr. Matthew Schneider
  • Fr. Schneider is an openly autistic priest diagnosed with autism after his first year of ministry when he failed to read the emotions on kids’ faces as a school chaplain.  Check out his testimony, resources and book “God Loves the Autistic Mind: Prayer Guide for Those on the Spectrum and Those who Love Us”. 

  • Fr. Schneider describes himself as a priest, religious, moral theologian, autistic writer, social media guru, etc.

Be Not Afraid

  • Be Not Afraid (BNA) is a private non-profit organization which provides comprehensive case management to parents carrying to term following a prenatal diagnosis.  Our staff and peers strive to develop a relationship of trust while providing for the emotional and tangible needs of parents at diagnosis, during pregnancy, at birth and during the post postpartum period for up to one year.
  • They follow the ethical teaching of the Catholic Church, but serve parents of all denominations.  They provide resources for clergy and medical professionals.

Caregiving for Your Aging Loved Ones

  • Flyer resource from Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

CUSA:  An Apostolate of Persons with Chronic Illness or Disability

  • CUSA is a community of people who are chronically ill or who have some sort of physical or mental disability.  We support one another through prayer and correspondence.  Through our concern for one another, we forge a special relationship with our God as well as with one another.  Our unity is born of a common situation and a common faith.  Our bond goes beyond that of fraternal organizations or social clubs, for it is forged by the redemptive suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

L'Arche USA

  • We are people with and without intellectual disabilities living, working, praying, and playing together in community.
  • L’Arche strives to make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities, foster environments that meet our members changing needs, and engage in diverse cultures, working toward a humane society.

  • Our mission includes supporting L’Arche communities in the United States, helping all of our members realize their full potential, and engaging with the broader public, so that everyone can experience the unique gifts of people with intellectual disabilities.

Mental Illness Theological Framework

  Xavier Society for the Blind                                           Hands with book reading braille and words Braille Ministry

  • Xavier Society is a Catholic organization that has been around since 1900 whose mission is to provide the Word of God, and the best of Roman Catholic teaching and literature, spiritual and inspirational material to blind or visually impaired persons of any faith in whatever format best meets their needs at NO CHARGE.

   Examples of resources they provide include:

  • The Missalette for Mass every Sunday and on special Feast Days in an accessible format is available. We provide Propers of the Sunday Mass in hard copy braille as well as downloadable in audio, large print, and electronic BRF (braille ready file). People can use these to lector or just follow along at Mass.
  •  Audio books will play in the talking book machines provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS).
  • For braille readers many titles are available in BRF (braille ready file).
  •  If you are a Spanish braille reader, the Sunday readings are available in BRF (braille ready file). And they are working hard to making books available in Spanish.

For additional information contact Patty Origer, Persons with Disability Ministry Coordinator,  phone 515-237-5073.