Contributors Learning to love like him

A new school year means new opportunities for all

Joshua Ruoff is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan special-needs ministry. He can be reached by email at:

by Joshua Ruoff

We have reached a new school year. It has been a while since you have heard an update from the  special-needs ministry.

This past June, we celebrated a record 20 families at our special- needs family camp at Prairie Star Ranch. In July, we were blessed with four wonderful young adult missionaries at Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe teaching over a dozen individuals with disabilities more about their faith during Totus Tuus.

After all of that, there is still much more work to be done in our ministry! I am still in need of volunteer assistance to restart our BREATHE respite care program. If you are open to assisting, please reach out to our office.

After my last article in April, I had the opportunity to assist Benedictine College with its annual field day, providing individuals with all abilities an opportunity of physical activity and community. It was a joy to see so many individuals having a joyful time, especially after many of them had been isolated during the pandemic.

But what had such a profound impact on me was interacting with the faculty and students.

I have been to many universities in my life and have even visited Benedictine before. Usually when you are on a college campus, people are in their own technology and social media world and are oblivious to the world around them.

Everyone at Benedictine, though, acknowledged me and said hello. It seems so simple but I found it so beautiful. It made me appreciate just how rich of a community there is at Benedictine College.

Another wonderful part of Benedictine College that I want to share with you is the St. Joseph of Cupertino Program.

In 2020, Mike and Terri Kern struggled to find a postsecondary educational community for their daughter Halley, who was diagnosed with some disabilities at a young age. They took it upon themselves to create an opportunity for her.

By making a substantial donation, the SJC Program was formed with the vision of helping those with disabilities to be able to experience higher education in a socially caring and spiritually grounded community!  Halley was the first student accepted into the program.

The following year, Quinn McCullough joined Halley. This fall, Benedictine welcomed four new students into the program. The SJC is 100% donor-funded. If you feel called to donate, submit your gift online at: and designate it to the St. Joseph of Cupertino Program.

Many students with disabilities seem to fall through the cracks, and the St. Joseph of Cupertino Program is a wonderful plan that continues to advocate that there is room for all at Benedictine. For more information, please contact Terri Kern at (816) 805-8781 or by email at:

About the author

Joshua Ruoff

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