Reaching out

Have your eyes been opened to those waiting on the peripheries?

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

by Tom Racunas

During Mass on Oct. 6, I hit a wall! 

All of a sudden, I experienced this overwhelming physical sense of exhaustion. 

The time spent at the archdiocesan convocation up to that point had been fast-paced and intense, incredibly uplifting, inspiring and validating! 

Yet, I was tired! I thought, “I’m not sure I’m going to make it.”  

I looked around the vast convention space filled with a wonderful representation of diversity from every parish in our archdiocese participating in holy Mass with Archbishop Naumann as the main celebrant. 

One thousand five hundred and ninety-nine people were probably just as tired as I was. They inspired me to ignore my fatigue and focus on experiencing the miracle of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist once again. 

So proud to be Catholic! We aremissionary disciples. As the archbishop so powerfully but simply stated, we arecalled “to grow as disciples of Jesus and make disciples for Jesus.” My heart was enflamed!

St. Mother Teresa was walking down a street in Calcutta with yet another journalist who was doing a story about her work. 

Suddenly, the journalist realized that Mother Teresa was not beside him. He turned back and saw her bent down over a man lying in the curb of the street where they had been walking. 

He rushed to her side and said, “Mother, I am so sorry. I didn’t even see him.” Mother Teresa said, “That’s because you were not looking for him.” 

It seems to me if our hearts are enflamed, our eyes will be open to see those to whom we should reach out (in convocation language, our 3, 12 and 72) — to those on the peripheries, to those who are longing for a place to belong, to those who need an invitation to come home! 

Obviously, my desire is that we enflame our hearts and open our eyes to find those people with disabilities and their families who still do not feel welcomed and valued in our parishes. 

The third goal of the archbishop’s mutually shared vision states that by the beginning of this Advent (less than one month away now), each parish is asked to begin to plan for outreach to people with disabilities to ensure their participation in the liturgy and faith formation including sacramental preparation. 

There is good progress toward the goal. The more I get to know our priests, the more I can see that they are aware of and sensitive to the pastoral needs of people with disabilities. 

Twenty-two parishes have advocates for people with disabilities. Several parishes have established special-needs committees. Individuals and families have expressed their deep gratitude! We are growing as disciples of Jesus, making disciples for Jesus. Come Holy Spirit, enflame our hearts! 

About the author

Tom Racunas

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