Action is louder than words

Sept 29 – Oct 5, ’05
VOL 124 NO. 33
Action is louder than words
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Mass held for persons with disabilities

On Sunday, Sept. 25, over 600 people gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse for the Persons With Disabilities Mass. Bishop Thomas Costello served as celebrant of the Mass.

The Mass was enhanced greatly by the uplifting music performed by Maria DeSantis, accompanied by her instrumental group. The ensemble performed the songs “You Raise Me Up” and “What the World Needs Now” for the prelude. For the processional they performed the prayer of St. Francis set to music, and DeSantis led those in attendance in singing Psalm 103 – “Loving and Forgiving.” During Communion, DeSantis sang the uplifting song “Alfie.” The words of the song, “When you walk, let your heart lead the way, you’ll find love every day” seemed appropriate for the occasion. De Santis concluded the Mass with the song “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”

The disabled were well represented in the execution of the Mass, serving as altar servers, communion ministers and lector.

Chris Kovar served as the interpreter for the deaf who were in attendance, and reserved seating was provided for those who desired seating near the interpreter.

The Mass began with cross bearer Aaron Cutler leading the Knights of Columbus Color Guard in a procession down the center aisle of the Cathedral.

DeSantis welcomed everyone to the Mass, which she mentioned was a celebration of people with disabilities.

Bishop Costello stressed the importance of Ezekiel’s teachings from the Bible. “Ezekiel said that to follow God’s will requires perseverance, consistency and fidelity,” relayed Bishop Costello. “He also said that if we betray God, we can expect to be punished. Additionally, he said God is graceful and merciful, and if we turn away from our sin and wickedness, God will forgive us.”

Bishop Costello told of how Paul said to think about other people. “We need to play ourselves down a little bit and be concerned for others,” remarked Bishop Costello. “Paul said, ‘If you love your neighbor, you also love your God.’ If love is true and genuine, it translates itself into service. Christ is easy to see in people’s anxious, lonely and troubled faces. These people only ask for dignity and to be loved and accepted. They want to be recognized and to be given an opportunity to participate. If you look carefully, you may see Jesus in the Cathedral this morning.”

“To our friends that are here — please know that we see Jesus in you — patience, determination, faith, courage and hope,” said Bishop Costello. “Note that you challenge and inspire us to be more Christ-like and to reform ourselves. You inspire us to love and to service. You are our neighbors. As we service you, you offer Christ to us. Please know you are always welcome in this place. Thank you for your presence here this morning. Thank you for the challenges you offer each and every one of us. We are one family.”

DeSantis then recited “Beatitudes for Special People” against a background of reflective music.

After the Mass, everyone was invited to a reception in the Parish Center.

Deb Joiner had organized the Mass and she said it was a rewarding experience for her. “It’s an honor because I’m helping the people — letting them know that their faith will get them through,” said Joiner. When she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980, she questioned her faith. “I asked, ‘How could God do this?’” said Joiner. “But God is loving and caring. My disability has brought me closer to my faith, family and friends. Interacting with others gives me strength.”

Ed Long, historian at the Cathedral, was impressed with the Mass. “I thought Bishop Costello’s homily was wonderful,” said he. “We need to remember that the Lord is everywhere — especially in our brothers and sisters who have disabilities.”

Parishioner David Wilensky was feeling very positive after the Mass. “I got a good feeling from the Mass,” said Wilensky. “With everything that is going on in the world today, we need some uplifting.”

Rachel Perkins was pleased by the number of disabled people who had managed to attend the Mass. Perkins has volunteered with the diocesan advisory board for 15 years. “We have been trying for a number of years to get the word out – we’re trying to actively reach all the disabled population,” said Perkins. “The development center is closed — so many disabled people have lost that resource. We’re trying to reconnect and do some church integration in the community. We’ve tried to keep it going – it’s very much needed. Look what can happen when people stay committed.”

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