One Body in Christ Together:
Accompanying Persons w/ Disabilities in a Synodal Church.

Introducing a Pilot Program for Parish Leaders


Pope Francis says that many persons with disabilities feel like ‘Hidden Exiles,’

‘that they exist without belonging and participating.’ … Our concerns should be not only to care for them but to ensure their ‘active participation’ in the civil and ecclesial community. That … will gradually contribute to the formation of consciences capable of acknowledging each individual as a unique and unrepeatable person.
Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 97–98


Come to an introduction session, a sort of commercial, that will provide a sense of the program and journey. There will be one session in each county. So come to a location near you or on a date that fits your calendar! TO REGISTER: Click the link for the location you want to attend.

  • Thursday February 15 St. Joseph Church, Jersey City  1:30 to 3:30 PM  

  • Thursday February 21 at Assumption Church, Emerson 1:30 to 3:30 PM

  • Wednesday February 28 at Archdiocesan Center, Newark  1:00 to 3:00 PM

  • Friday March 15 at St. Helen Church, Westfield 1:00 to 3:00 PM

Click here to register.

  • Tuesday April 23 at St. Paul Church, Ramsey 7:00 to 9:00 PM

Click here to register.

What Can We Do?

Consider becoming a Pilot Parish Partner (PPP). YOU ARE CRITICAL! Responding to the challenge and need expressed above, the One Body in Christ Together (OBiCT) program is based on extensive research and pastoral experience, informed by the voices of persons with disabilities (PwD) and those who love them, and built upon Catholic Social Teaching. Click on each of the blocks below for answers to the questions listed.

What is the program designed to do?
  • Offer concrete guidance on accompanying PwD and those who love them
  • Empower parish leadership to lead their parish efforts in this area.
  • Develop communities of welcome and hospitality that foster deepening experiences of communion amongst persons with and without disabilities.
  • Explore the concerns, experiences, and possibilities of persons with disabilities in reflective activities based on real situations.
  • Provide a simple framework for parish self-assessment and goal setting.
  • Offer a model for ongoing development throughout, revisiting strengths and struggles throughout pilot journey and beyond.
  • Test and evaluate OBiCT’s effectiveness to achieve its goals.
  • Inform the resulting program to serve other parishes in the Archdiocese of Newark and beyond.
What is a Pilot Parish Partner and who is on the team?

Pilot parishes will make a vital contribution to developing this program and are called Pilot Parish Partners (PPP). As a PPP your parish would perform a critical role by participating and testing the OBiCT program and resources. This will not only help your parish, but also parishes across the Archdiocese and beyond who want to learn concretely how to accompany persons with disabilities (PwD) and those who love them. Such accompaniment within a parish fosters growth as a community of welcome and hospitality that nurtures deepening experiences of communion amongst persons with and without disabilities. And frankly, this process will help with accompanying individuals from other marginalized groups.

Each PPP team includes members of the parish staff, ordained and lay, official and unofficial. In short, the people who influence what happens in the parish. NOTE: pastor’s participation and support is crucial.

From A Synodal Church in Mission Synthesis Report (10/28/23)

we affirm that Church ‘is’ mission. … The exercise of co-responsibility is essential for synodality …

In the promotion of the co-responsibility of all the baptized for mission we recognize the apostolic capacities of persons with disabilities. We want to better value the contribution to evangelisation offered by the immense richness of their humanity. We recognise their experiences of suffering, marginalisation and discrimination, sometimes occurring even within the Christian community.
XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, A Synodal Church in Mission Synthesis Report (8:a,b,k) 10/28/23

From Revised Guidelines of the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities

The Church continues to affirm the dignity of every human being, and to grow in knowledge and understanding of the gifts and needs of her members who live with disabilities. Likewise, the Church recognizes that every parish community includes members with disabilities, and earnestly desires their active participation. All members of the Body of Christ are uniquely called by God by virtue of their Baptism. In light of this call, the Church seeks to support all in their growth in holiness, and to encourage all in their vocations. Participating in, and being nourished by, the grace of the sacraments is essential to this growth in holiness. Catholic adults and children with disabilities, and their families, earnestly desire full and meaningful participation in the sacramental life of the Church. 
Revised Guidelines of the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, Introduction


Anne Masters, PhD, FAAIDD

Follow Office for Pastoral Ministry with Persons with Disabilities