One of the things I always express to newly registered parishioners is to please let me know how the parish can better meet the spiritual needs of their family. Several months ago, a young mom approached me about the possibility of St. Michael offering a “sensory-friendly Mass” for adults and special needs children. I learned a lot from her own experience and was grateful to learn how we as a spiritual family can better meet the needs of these families.
What exactly is a “sensory-friendly Mass” you may be wondering?
Well, I was unsure until sitting down and talking with this mom. The goal is to provide Catholics with disabilities, and their families, the assistance needed to feel equally welcomed and included at the Lord’s table. An additional benefit can be that families feel more at home and are encouraged to join the parish or that other individuals see how “all are welcome” and a part of the parish. Here at St. Michael, we will try this for the first time on Saturday, September 25 at the 5 pm Mass. While nothing in the liturgy itself is changed, there will be some tweaks to allow for a more relaxed and inclusive experience for individuals with sensory sensitivities and their families. We are hoping to offer this on a more regular basis, such as quarterly.
What exactly might look different on September 25?
The music will be softer. Lights will be dimmed and lowered. The homily length will be a bit shorter. There may be some other subtle changes. For the next several weeks, there will be bulletin articles and resources shared so we as a parish family can be more educated on the importance of being inclusive to Catholics with disabilities. This week there is a bulletin insert from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops with a document on “Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities.” This is a great place to start on our education of this important topic because it comes to us from the authority and teaching of the bishops. Please read through.
If you, your family, or someone in your life would want to attend this sensory-friendly Mass, please invite them and assure them they would be very welcome. No need to RSVP, just come! If you have any questions, please let me know.
Thank you ahead of time for helping make our parish an even more welcoming spiritual home for all Catholics.
Have a great week!
- Patty Breen, Pastoral Associate