Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

June 18, 2009

Catechesis with Persons with Special Needs


Soeren Palumbo, now a junior at the University of Notre Dame, delivered a powerful testimony of love for his sister, Olivia, prior to his high school graduation in 2007. Soeren spoke out against the use of "retard" as a word that both teens and adults use disrespectfully toward people with disabilities. His reminder to treat all people with dignity and respect is an important one. Check out a tape of his speech:




The National Directory for Catechesis shares the following guidelines for providing catechesis for persons with special needs:

  • Catechesis for persons with disabilities must be adapted in content and method to their particular situations.
  • Specialized catechesis should help them interpret the meaning of their lives and give witness to Christ's presence in the local community in ways they can understand and appreciate.
  • "Great care should be taken to avoid further isolation of persons with disabilities through these programs which, as far as possible, should be integrated with normal catechetical activities of the parish" (quoting Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities, no. 16)
  • Catechetical efforts should be promoted by diocesan staffs and parish committees that include persons with disabilities.

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