Pathways Awareness Foundation Recognizes Seven Parishes for Creating Access and Inclusion in Worship
September 22, 2005
In conjunction with Inclusion Awareness Day, September 25, 2005, Pathways Awareness Foundation is honoring seven parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago for their efforts to provide access and inclusion in worship.
The 2005 Open Hearts Award recipients are:
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Chicago
St. Zachary Church, Des Plaines
Church of the Holy Spirit, Schaumburg
St. Nicholas Church, Evanston
St. Athanasius Church, Evanston
St. John Vianney Church, Northlake
St. Thecla Church, Chicago
These congregations work to create not only physical buildings that are accessible to all, but also an environment that respects and nurtures the gifts of each individual of every ability. Pastors, Inclusion Representatives, parish leaders and parishioners have worked together in these worshipping communities to raise funds to install accessible parking places, curb cuts, automatic door openers, ramps, elevators and accessible washrooms.
They have personally invited parishioners with disabilities to serve as liturgical ministers, parish council members and on parish committees. Kaney O’Neill from St. Thecla parish was invited by the "Welcome Committee" to serve the parish as a lector. "As a quadriplegic I am on the receiving end in many of my daily activities. What did the gesture of asking me to be a lector mean? It gave me a true sense of belonging that membership brings and is often a rare commodity for a person with a disability. The simple act of reading at Mass gives me an opportunity to give back. That has been a great gift," said Kaney.
Since 1996 Pathways Awareness Foundation has been working in partnership
with the Archdiocese of Chicago on the Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors program. Pathways Awareness Foundation sponsors the annual Open Hearts Awards. The goal is to recognize Chicago area houses of worship for their inclusion efforts. Congregations can receive up to $1,000 to provide accommodations so that all members can participate in spiritual, educational and social activities.
For more information about the Pathways Awareness Foundation Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors Program or to volunteer as a parish Inclusion Representative, call 1-800-955-2445 or visit www.pathwaysawareness.org/open.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Chicago, IL
Five years ago Our Lady of Guadalupe parish began a Millennium Campaign
to raise funds to make their church a welcoming place for older parishioners and parishioners with physical disabilities. An elevator from the street level to the worship space and down to the basement social hall was recently completed as well as ramps to the altar and to a chapel used for private prayer. Washrooms were remodeled for access.
These physical improvements are a constant reminder of the community's sensitivity and commitment to including parishioners of all abilities. The parish has a volunteer Inclusion Representative who shares Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors program materials and information with parish leadership and helps coordinate Inclusion Awareness Day activities. The Pathways Awareness Foundation 2005 Open Hearts Award will be used to defray the cost of the elevator.
St. Zachary Church, Des Plaines
Involving parishioners of all abilities in ministry is a priority at St. Zachary parish. Parishioners are accommodated so that they can serve as Deacons, altar servers, ushers, gift bearers, religious education teachers, ministers of Communion, lectors, choir members, and art and environment committee members.
The parish has a new Inclusion Representative who coordinates the Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors program in the parish and who works directly with parishioners to accommodate needs so that all may participate. The Pathways Awareness Foundation Open Hearts Award will be used to provide additional parking spaces adjacent to the church and to repair an automatic door opener.
Church of the Holy Spirit, Schaumburg, IL
Accessible parking, curb cuts and ramps to the church and Ministry Center make Church of the Holy Spirit accessible and welcoming. Movable chairs that provide flexible space for wheelchairs in the assembly, an accessible baptismal font, and a signed Mass create access to worship. Parishioners of all abilities serve as altar servers, greeters, gift
bearers, communion ministers, choir members and parish council members.
The parish has two new Inclusion Representatives, a husband and wife team, who coordinate the Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors program in the parish. The Pathways Awareness Foundation 2005 Open Hearts Award will be used to purchase an automatic door opener for the church entrance.
St. Nicholas Church, Evanston, IL
Wishing to create a welcoming culture, this older parish with aging buildings, raised funds to install an elevator to the Social Hall. An accessible drop off area, accessible parking and curb cuts as well as ramp and 36-inch wide doorways provide access to the church. Assistive listening devices, bright lighting and a clearly marked accessible washroom are also provided. Parishioners with disabilities serve as gift bearers, altar servers and choir members.
The parish has an Inclusion Representative and has been active in the Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors program since 1997. The parish will use a Pathways Awareness Foundation 2005 Open Hearts Award for defraying the cost of the elevator to the Social Hall. St. Nicholas parish was also honored with an Open Hearts Award for accessibility in 2000.
St. Athanasius Church, Evanston, IL
Twelve years ago St. Athanasius parish installed a ramp to the convent and remodeled a washroom to make accessible meeting rooms available to parishioners who use wheelchairs. A ramp to the church was added two years later. In 2003 a ramp to the altar was installed. Portable ramps are used to provide access to the school gymnasium. Parishioners with disabilities serve as greeters, gift bearers, lectors and members of the
parish council. The parish has an active Inclusion Representative who coordinates the Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors program in the parish.
The Pathways Awareness Foundation 2005 Open Hearts Award will be used to
remodel the church washroom for access and to install an automatic door opener on the church entrance.
St. John Vianney Church, Northlake, IL
Accessible parking, curb cuts, drop off area, entrance ramps with railings, bright lighting in church and access renovations to an existing bathroom welcome parishioners with disabilities at St. John Vianney parish. The Pathways Awareness Foundation 2005 Open Hearts Award will be used to defray the cost of an elevator to the basement meeting
St. Thecla Church, Chicago, IL
Personal invitations and accommodations encourage parishioners with disabilities to contribute their gifts at St. Thecla parish. A ramp to the altar allows parishioners who use wheelchairs to participate as lectors and gift bearers. The parish has a new Inclusion Representative to coordinate the Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors program in the
parish. The Pathways Awareness Foundation 2005 Open Hearts Award will be used to install handrails in the sanctuary for easier access to the altar area for older parishioners.
Pathways Awareness Foundation, 150 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 2100, Chicago,
IL raises awareness about early detection, early intervention and inclusion of children with physical movement concerns. The "Open Hearts, Open Minds Open Doors" program provides information and materials to assist congregations to welcome in worship.