Inclusion Initiative

“Enlarge the space for your tent. Spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your pegs.” (Isaiah 54:2)

How do we enlarge the area for our (ecclesial) church ‘tents’ to enable the entire body of Christ to enter? That is the question an inclusion initiative launched by the diocese's Office of Lifelong Faith Formation will explore. The goal is to create a unifying, comprehensive framework to help parishes in the diocese grow in awareness and inclusion of persons with disabilities. 

Aims of the Initiative

  • Help parishes include persons with disabilities in the fullness of the body of Christ, not as a separate parish ministry but as integrated into existing parish and sacramental life.
  • Provide opportunities for parish awareness, education, conversation, action steps, and best practices for long-term, systemic, and impactful growth.
  • Guide parishes in helping persons with disabilities feel valued, welcomed, and affirmed, within the context of five areas:
    • Accessibility – Attitudinal: being aware of and naming our discomforts, fears, and assumptions.
    • Language of Inclusion
    • Accessibility/Hospitality (physical, social)
    • Meaningful participation in Church (nurturing lifelong spirituality; living a full sacramental life; identifying and aligning individual gifts for ministry to parish community and local communities
    • Belonging (moving from inclusion to belonging; relationships)

Regional Gatherings

To educate parishes about the initiative, receive input, and share information and ideas, OLFF will direct three in-person gatherings in April. The keynote presenter at each will be Charleen Katra, executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability. Clergy and parish staff are encouraged to attend.

Southern Maine - Wednesday, April 10, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Holy Martyrs of North America Church, 266 Foreside Road, Falmouth

Central Maine - Thursday, April 11, Noon to 5:30 p.m., at Immaculate Conception Church, 31 Calais Avenue, Calais

Northern Maine - Friday, April 12 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Holy Rosary Parish Center, 32 Vaughn Street, Caribou

Registration Information

Gatherings are open to clergy and parish staff, but parishes are also encouraged to invite parishioners who might benefit from this initiative or be able to assist in it. The cost is $20 per person, which includes lunch, snacks, beverages, and a copy of the diocesan framework, as well as other relevant resources. Registration is open now until April 2, 2024, and is through parishes.

To register click here.


Inclusion Initiative Summary for Parishes

National Catholic Partnership on Disability (External Link)

Pope Francis' Message on International Day for Persons with Disabilities (External Link)

Additional Notes

The inclusion initiative is made possible by a grant from the Lay Continuing Education & Formation Endowment of the Catholic Foundation of Maine.