On the eve of Newcastle’s hosting of the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony, and to celebrate International Day of People with Disability, the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle extends an invitation to all athletes, their coaches, families, carers and the wider community to attend a Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 841 Hunter Street, Newcastle West, on Saturday 30 November at 5.30pm.
Bishop of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Bill Wright, will preside at the Mass, which will recognise those in our community living with disability and promote an understanding of their dignity, rights and well-being.
Diocesan Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries , Teresa Brierley, encourages all to attend the Mass and says it’s an important opportunity for everyone, Catholic or not, to offer solidarity in support of all people living with disability.
“The Vigil Mass offers a time for us to acknowledge the skills and achievements of people with disability and celebrate the wonderful contribution they and their carers make in our community,” Mrs Brierley said.
“It also seeks to increase awareness of the benefits of the integration of people with disability in every aspect of life and is a way of uniting people with disability and community organisations, businesses and the wider community.”
“We are particularly excited to be able to celebrate this Mass on the eve of the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony and extend a warm welcome to the 2500 athletes, their families, carers and coaches from 30 nations who will call Newcastle home for the duration of the Games,” she said.
The diocese, through its agency CatholicCare Social Services, offers a range of services to support people with disability to live an active life with increased opportunities to independent living where possible.
Staff and clients of CatholicCare’s Disability Services will participate in the Mass and students and their parents from Catholic Schools as well as representatives from parishes and diocesan agencies are also being encouraged to attend.
Catholic schools and parishes are also encouraged to celebrate International Day of People with Disability on December 3 and increase awareness in their own communities by setting aside time (during Mass, at a school assembly or special event) to acknowledge the contribution people with disability make and highlight the need for change in social attitudes towards creating a more inclusive way of living.
“Together we can increase awareness in creating equality for anyone living with disability and I look forward to welcoming visitors from outside the region to our beautiful Cathedral,” Mrs Brierley said.
The Special Olympics Vigil Mass will be celebrated from 5.30pm, Saturday November 30 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.