Sunday, October 08, 2006

Whatever you do to the least of these

My wife and I attend separate churches. That isn't today's topic, but just bear with me. There was a time when we were searching for a church to attend together, which was difficult enough when it was just the two of us, but when you add two kids with developmental disabilities? Forget about it. One church took our son into the preschool classroom (this was a couple of years ago), but asked us to take him out because he wasn't toilet trained. Others just flat out told us that they weren't prepared for kids with special needs. Others didn't say that in so many words, but their examples showed us that they weren't. My response to them, unspoken because at heart I am an absolute wuss, is that if you aren't prepared for them then you aren't prepared for me.

It isn't much of an issue right now because my wife's church is plenty prepared to deal with special needs kids. I wish I could say the same for Catholic churches. I would love to bring my children to Mass someday, but only if there is some sort of cry room or other means of keeping my kids from being a distraction. And I don't even want to hear about cry rooms not being "liturgically correct" (as if your polka masses are). Forget the abstract theories and live in the real world for a change.

There are families out there who have children in wheelchairs, children with developmental disabilities, children with Tourette's syndrome or Down's syndrome or other syndromes which don't have P.R. firms or telethons assigned to them yet, and the last thing they need is to have their situation relegated to a sentence in a parish council report or a footnote in an academic journal. These people aren't being rebellious. They aren't trying to circumvent the rules. The fact that someone may want a different type of host for their child who would choke to death on the regular kind doesn't mean that they are going to declare themselves to be John Paul III the next day. These people are hightailing it out of the Catholic church and the Methodist church and any other church where their children are met with stares instead of snacks, with whispers instead of welcomes. And all I have to say is...

More power to them.


Here's what I've been thinking about doing. I've been needing some more blog material anyway, so I might as well run with this. I'm going to start contacting churches. No, Ma, I'm not in the hunt. But I'm curious as to how many churches I can find that are prepared to deal with children with disabilities. I'm performing a public service. I'll let you know how it goes.


Blogger Peter McNaughton said...

Church is really only about two things, God and people. If you can't take care of people, then you probably aren't doing very well with God either. I sympathize with your struggles. I hope we Christians can learn that taking care of others needs, even if it isn't easy, is usually the biggest part of our job.

11:51 PM  

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