by John DiBiase
Special Needs Religious Education.
What exactly does this broad term mean? For some, it may be as simple as not quite up to grade level in reading; for others it may describe complex needs. Regardless of the child or adult’s “special need,” there is no reason why she or he should not be admitted into the fullness of our faith.
When Jesus said to His Apostles, “Let the little children come to Me,” He did not add, only the ones who are fast learners or great at math or who can walk without adaptive equipment.
Quite to the contrary, Jesus had a special love for those with “special needs.” In fact, when St. John was in prison and He sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah, Jesus said to tell John that the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk.
If this is so, then there is no malady that should keep a person from the sacraments.
Pope Francis and our own Bishop DiMarzio have displayed a great love for the disabled, homeless, aged and other marginalized members of our society. Their concern is evident and is a true example of the love that Jesus has for all of His creation. It is our job then to follow His example.
I am the new coordinator of Special Needs Religious Education in the diocesan School of Evangelization. I have been working in the field of special needs for 15 years and well over 30 years in healthcare, especially care for the indigent and infirmed. Nothing has given me greater professional joy than running my agency and striving to make the lives of those we support and serve full and happy.
Now as I transition my professional life into my ministry, it is my hope that we will include all who come to us for the sacraments and invite all who may not come to us out of fear or lack of knowledge.
I will endeavor to encourage all to come and see the goodness of the Lord regardless of their abilities.
We must call all members of the flock to His table.
John DiBiase, a member of St. Margaret’s parish, Middle Village, will be ordained a permanent deacon of the diocese on Saturday, May 27, at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral, Prospect Heights.