Disability stories seek to avoid tragedy of exclusion

A newly published book documenting stories of people with disabilities and their families offers an exciting glimmer of "a real jewel in life", Defence Diocese Bishop Max Davis says.

Bishop Davis was speaking at the launch yesterday of "We Have a Story" - a collection of stories from people with a disability, their families and faith communities.

The new book would be an inspiration and a blessing for the Australian Church, Bishop Davis said.

The launch followed a Mass at St Peter Chanel's Church, Yarralumla, ACT, which was attended by many people with disability and their family, friends, carers and parish priests.

The chief Celebrant was Bishop Eugene Hurley, chairman of the Bishops' Commission for Pastoral Life. Assisting him was Bishop Davis, the Commission's Delegate for Disability Issues. A number of priests also concelebrated.

Others special guests present at the launch included Archbishop Mark Coleridge and a representative of the Apostolic Nuncio.

A key feature of the Mass was the participation in the liturgy of people with disability who came from Ballarat, Bathurst and Brisbane dioceses.

The Mass also featured the national launch of a new hymn to celebrate the gifts of all members of the Church. Entitled "One Body in Christ", it was written and sung by Amanda McKenna of the Parramatta diocese.

Following the Mass, those present, gathered for the official launch of "We Have a Story". Many people in the room had given their own story to the project.

"I thank God every day for my parish and pray that disabled people everywhere find hope in the Catholic faith. It is in my parish that I find hope and am truly at peace," says Anthony Succar from the Croyden Park Parish in NSW.

Mr Succar was speaking of the importance of hope, saying he had found hope again after returning to his Catholic faith.

Thanking all those who have shared their stories at the launch and in the book, Bishop Hurley said: "Every one of these stories is a great, exciting little glimmer of a real jewel in life."

"We want to listen carefully to your experiences so that the tragedy of anyone being excluded from our Church community might be avoided," he said. "May this just be the beginning of a wonderful journey together as we learn from one another."

"We Have a Story" - collection of stories from people with a disability, an inspiration and a blessing for the Church (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Media Release, 4/12/06)
Bishops launch major commitment to people with disabilities... (Catholica, 5/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishops Committee for Pastoral Life

Bishop seeking "good news" on gifts of disabled (CathNews, 4/7/06)
Adelaide Archbishop's prayers for disabled (CathNews, 5/12/05)

5 Dec 2006