Contributors Learning to love like him

Three new outreaches planned with special needs in mind

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

by Joshua Ruoff

St. Paul teaches us that though we are many parts, we make up one body of Christ.

Therefore, without the participation of each of us, the body of Christ in our communities would not be complete. That is why it’s important to include everyone in our church, regardless of their abilities — not just inclusion in liturgical celebrations, but also social and catechetical events as well. There are lots of upcoming opportunities for individuals in all three of these areas.

As a social opportunity, April 6, Church of the Ascension in Overland Park is hosting a dinner and dance for individuals with special needs 18 and older. Parents or caregivers are welcome.

This is a wonderful event during prom season for individuals to celebrate the gift of life with song and dance. Please visit Ascension’s website or contact the special- needs office at the archdiocese for more information.

As a liturgical opportunity, June 29, we are providing the first-known sensory- friendly eucharistic adoration hour. This event will be a pilot to provide the necessary materials and knowledge for other dioceses across the world to provide the same opportunity to other individuals with special needs.

This eucharistic adoration hour will look and feel different to some people. We will refrain from the use of incense and music and will have dim lighting.

We feel so blessed to be able to provide this not only for our community but for the world, as we celebrate this year of the Eucharistic Revival. This will be held at Queen of the Holy Rosary in Overland Park. Please follow our social media and join our Flocknote for more information in the future.

For catechetical formation, signup is available for our special-needs Totus Tuus July 15-19 at St. Joseph in Shawnee. This is a wonderful opportunity for individuals in first grade and up to learn more about their faith and how much God loves them.

Volunteers are also needed for this event and it is a great place for young people to obtain service hours. Visit the archdiocesan special-needs website for more information.

As we come closer to Easter and the end of our Lenten journey, let us remember that each of us needs help carrying our cross to our final destination. These opportunities for individuals with special needs are amazing; however, we should not need special events only for those with special needs.

We all have special needs and should all be included and welcomed in all church activities. Christ died for ALL of us and wants ALL of us to join him in his kingdom. Let’s keep doing our best to help everyone we meet get to that final destination.

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Joshua Ruoff

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