Bishop urges leadership roles for people with disability

3 December 2019
The International Day of People with Disability logo. Image: International Day of People with Disability.

The Bishop Delegate for Disability Issues has used his message for the International Day of People with Disability to call on Catholic communities across Australia to invite people with disability to take up leadership positions.

The theme for the 2019 celebration, held on December 3, is “Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership”.

Bishop Don Sproxton, in a letter to the Catholic faithful, said is it critical to ensure “the full and equal participation of persons with disability in all spheres of society and includes active participation in our Church and parish communities to create enabling environments by, for and with persons with disability”.

“This includes ensuring an environment that promotes leadership opportunities for people with disability,” he said.

Bishop Sproxton said progress has been made within the Church, as within the wider community. He offered one tangible and imminent example in his own archdiocese.

“The Australian Catholic Youth Festival to be held in Perth will be showcasing a workshop and prayer experience facilitated by young people with disability – an opportunity for young people with disability to showcase their leadership skills among their peers,” he explained, while acknowledging that “more needs to be done”.

Bishop Sproxton said offering leadership courses for people with disability to facilitate the next stage of the Plenary Council discussions in a local parish or diocese was a practical response to this year’s theme for the International Day of People with Disability.

Parish pastoral councils are also opportunities for people with disability to participate in Catholic leadership, he said.

“Parishes are communities with great potential to receive and nurture the giftedness of people with disability and can be a springboard for people with disability to embark on leadership roles,” Bishop Sproxton said.

Earlier this year, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and its Disability Projects Office produced the resource Do Not Be Afraid. It contains material for parishes and other Church organisations that minister to people with mental illness and their families.

The resources include educational material, infographics, sample articles, contacts in case of a crisis and other useful information.

Click here to visit the Do Not Be Afraid website and order the booklet.

 

Message for International Day of People with Disability – 3 December 2019

The theme this year is Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.

Dear Friends in Christ,

The theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to “leave no one behind”.

It is critical to ensure, in this regard, the full and equal participation of persons with disability in all spheres of society and includes active participation in our Church and parish communities to create enabling environments by, for and with persons with disability. This includes ensuring an environment that promotes leadership opportunities for people with disability.

There are many great examples of people with disability in leadership roles within our Church, in national, diocesan and parish settings. The Australian Catholic Youth Festival to be held in Perth in December 2019, will be showcasing a workshop and prayer experience facilitated by young people with disability – an opportunity for young people with disability to showcase their leadership skills among their peers. However, more needs to be done.

I invite you to consider encouraging and inviting people with disability to a leadership opportunity in your local setting. You may like to consider offering leadership courses for people with disability to lead the next stage in the Plenary Council discussions in your parish or diocese, or a leadership role in your Parish Pastoral Council. Parishes are communities with great potential to receive and nurture the giftedness of people with disability and can be a springboard for people with disability to embark on leadership roles.

I invite you to consider using the materials and resources available at catholic.org.au/disability to promote, empower and recognise the gifts of people with disability and to celebrate International Day of People with Disability, which is observed on the third day of December each year. It is appropriate that we observe and celebrate the International Day of People with Disability as we prepare during the Advent season for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Thank you again for your support in this most important endeavour.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Bishop Donald Sproxton,
Bishops’ Delegate for Disability Issues
Bishops Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

 

With thanks to the ACBC.

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