March 18, 2022

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Erin Jeffries

Come and meet people who will change your outlook on life

Erin JeffriesDuring the eight years I have been the archdiocese’s coordinator of Ministry to Persons with Special Needs, one of the greatest privileges I have had is to learn.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned as I’ve gotten to work with the folks who participate in our programs: what forgiveness looks like; how few words we really need sometimes; to slow down a bit and sit and listen; to pray with someone; to just enjoy dancing and singing and playing outside without worrying what people think.

I’ve witnessed beautiful, quiet, contemplative prayerful moments, and what it is to rejoice when someone is rejoicing and to hurt when someone is hurting. I’ve learned that it’s OK to need help, and what it looks like to give whatever we’ve got to help someone else.

From very early on, I learned that I am by no means alone in that feeling. Below are a few words from folks who have not only been catechists with parish SPRED (Special Religious Development) groups, but also with our larger community retreats and other events:

“They’re so faith-filled … there’s a love you feel in seeing God in all of these special people that we welcome each year. You don’t get this anywhere else.”—Mary Roesinger, Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis.

“We are all a family together sharing the faith. It’s so joyous, I can’t even tell you.”—Nicole McConnell, St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg.

“It’s more about the friends, but the catechists get so much more out of it.”—Chuck Flasch, St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis.

As I look through photos from our most recent community event, our annual dinner dance and see the love, the exuberance, the huge smiles on everyone’s faces, the thought that comes to mind is that this community is truly salt and light and—like all good things—needs to be shared.

With our latest dinner dance, we officially returned to all our community events being back in person after two years. As our parish groups are restarting or looking ahead at reconvening, I wanted to take a moment to invite you to come and see.

Come meet some of the wonderful friends we know and love, catechists, participants and volunteers alike, and experience the broader community that made then-Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin comment: “I thought everyone was from the same parish!”

Our next community event is a Disability Awareness Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Charles C. Thompson at 10 a.m. on April 24 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Come and join us afterward for a simple reception; we would love to meet you there!

One of the highlights of the year is an overnight summer retreat, which is on July 23-24 at the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center in Beech Grove, and an Advent Day of Reflection hosted at St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis. Come and spend the day or weekend with us and see why people have come back year after year.

But don’t just take my word for it, scan the QR code (shown earlier in this column) to get a glimpse of our activities during the past year, as well as brief interviews with two of our amazing catechists.
 

(Erin Jeffries can be reached at ejeffries@archindy.org or (317)236-1448. To learn more about resources in this area, visit www.archindy.org/specialneeds or www.archindy.org/deaf.)

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