Patricia Mowbray/Helen Merrin/Anna Chandler

19.  Mrs Patricia Mowbray OAM. Disability Projects Officer, Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference

and Helen Merrin, 35 years involvement in special education and L’Arche

and Anna Chandler, Advisory Visiting Teacher Hearing, Physical and Vision Impairment, Toowoomba Catholic Education Office, Queensland, Australia

One Body in Christ

In 2003, a consultation was undertaken to discover some of the hopes and dreams of people with disability for their participation in parish life in the Catholic Church of Australia.

We invited people to tell us good news stories that would encourage us all, such as this story from a person with an intellectual disability:    It’s very important for me to go to church.  It makes me feel happy.  It’s what I really want to do and makes me feel independent.  I especially like to sing with everyone.  It’s a talent coming out of me and makes me feel better in myself.  Because of my disabilities, I need a friend to take me there.  I have a good friend.  It is important to know other people in the parish, someone to welcome me, someone who knows me.    

We have been challenged by requests for greater recognition and more opportunities for participation of people with disability in the life of the Catholic Church. This workshop will be an opportunity to share stories from our consultation and share some of the resources the Australian Catholic Disability Council has developed. We will explore together how we can provide and encourage the full participation of people with disability and their families in the life of our faith communities.