By Caroline Smith
Supporting people with disabilities to take an active role in Church life is a focal point for Personal Advocacy Service (PAS), and a monthly Adapted Liturgy Mass held at Morley Parish is helping to boost this.
For more than 20 years, these ‘adapted liturgy’ services have encouraged people with disabilities to attend a Mass that has greater meaning for them personally, beginning in Lockridge Parish, then moving to Infant Jesus Church in Morley, according to PAS Director Ray Ryan.
“An ‘Inclusive’ Mass is where people with a disability are assigned roles during the Mass which may include participating in the entrance and recessional processions, bringing up the offertory gifts or as collectors,” he said.
“An ‘adapted liturgy’ Mass is where the Liturgy of the Word is modified. There are only two readings and these are interpreted with people on the altar using gesture and movement to bring greater clarity to the meaning of the readings for people with intellectual disability.
“In addition, the congregation joins in gesture and movement for the Responsorial Psalm. “Instead of a normal homily, the priest gives a synopsis of the principle message from the readings in one, simple to understand, sentence – repeated three times for the congregation.”
Mr Ryan added that the Inclusive Mass, which is held on the third Sunday of each month at 9:30am at Infant Jesus church in Morley, normally attracts around 400 people.
“Most of these are the Morley parishioners with the addition of about 20 to 30 people with intellectual disability, their advocate friends and their families,” he said.
“Many of these people are members of Personal Advocacy groups who come from several other parishes to attend this special Mass which has much more meaning for them.
“People with intellectual disability who are not members of PAS groups are also most welcome and are often brought along by their families.”
Adapted Liturgy Masses are also held at Willetton, Bateman and Thornlie parishes from time to time. Many other parishes hold inclusive Masses where people with disability are given active roles within a normal mass.
The initiative was an integral part of PAS’ work, he continued.
“The Personal Advocacy Service assists in the spiritual development of people with intellectual disability in 16 small groups operating in 13 parishes in the Archdiocese,” he said.
“As a part of this development each group has a ‘small group Mass’ each year, but the principle aim of PAS is to integrate these people into the spiritual life of their parish community. To facilitate this, it was decided many years ago to develop a Mass which would have more meaning to people with limited understanding so that they too could experience the love of God among their wider parish community.
“This regular Mass is now very well attended by people from PAS groups, both for the Mass experience and for the social gathering after Mass.”