Create database of PwDs, involve them in church activities: Cardinal

PANAJI: In a significant move towards ensuring greater participation of persons with disabilities (PwD) in church activities and empowering them, Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrao has asked all parishes to create a database of PwDs and formulate a parish plan to ensure their full participation.
The parishes should encourage PwDs to be altar servers and take part in the choir, as well as make all church buildings and websites accessible as mandated under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Ferrao has asked priests and church bodies to implement a slew of measures towards the inclusion of PwDs, including having appropriate representation of PwDs in parish pastoral councils, sensitising faithful to use disability-appropriate language, organising sensitisation programmes on different aspects of disabilities, ensuring those who teach catechism are familiar with sign language and telecasting masses in sign language.
Will identify priests for Masses in sign language: Ferrao
He is also looking at the church assisting PwDs in getting better employment opportunities. “A team from within the parish pastoral council should ensure persons with disabilities receive appropriate training in order to access job-oriented skills and self-employment opportunities,” stated one of the proposals to be implemented.
“PwDs should be assisted to avail of medical/economic aid and other facilities from the government as their entitlement,” reads another proposal to be implemented. The circular has also called on the Archdiocesan Board of Education to create facilities through special schools and through resource rooms in regular educational institutions, including vocational training centres for children and young adults with disabilities. The diocesan family service centre is to form a team of priests in each zone of the archdiocese to prepare PwDs for marriage.
The same centre in collaboration will also provide a support system for families having PwDs. During family pastoral visits at various levels by the clergy and other leaders, the church has recommended special attention be given to the needs and concerns of PwDs. Caritas Goa will form a Diocesan Resource Team to address issues concerning PwDs and identify priests and seminarians to be trained to celebrate masses in sign language and to assist at masses in the archdiocese. The proposals on Pastoral Care of Persons with Disabilities were prepared by Caritas Goa in consultation with sections of the clergy, religious and lay faithful.

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