The Special Vincentian Catechesis began with a small group in 2004 in the Vincentian parish of Saint Pius X (Reynosa, Tamaulipas). This was a response to prepare people with disabilities for the reception of the sacraments. Little by little the demand for this specialized formation grew. This preparation provided individuals with a place where they were respected, supported and enabled to become integrated into society. Above all, they learned about the great and infinite love of God. This catechesis has been extended to other places in Mexico through the formation of new groups of catechists and evangelizers who engage in this ministry. These persons first are trained through courses, seminars and workshops in the use of audio-visual and written material as well as in appropriate methodology and pedagogy.
This program is intended for individuals with some intellectual, physical, auditory, visual or psycho-social disability … people who need special attention (we refer to these individuals as “special friends”). Their family members are included in this process and in fact, are viewed as important participants in the formation process.
OBJECTIVE: to share with and to make known to these “special friends” the love that God has revealed through the person of Jesus Christ. In this way, these individuals can become good disciples/missionaries … we provide them with the material and psychological support that they need.
This program also attempts to influence the manner in which individuals are treated by the larger society: it is easy to accept a disabled person as a member of one’s family when society also accepts such individuals.
Mission: To support “the special friends” and their family as they seek to better the quality of their life and thus become accepted, supported and integrated into their community.
General Vision: We want each community in which this program is functioning to become a center of integral evangelization for “the special friends” and their family. At the same time these families that have been evangelized will be able to support and motivate other individuals who find themselves in the same situation … inviting others to participate in this program of service and evangelization.
Through personalized attention and with simple specialized techniques, this program desires to make the participants aware of God’s love. We do this with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, specialized religious and lay advisors (neurologists, psychologists, behavioral therapists, family therapists, educators, etc,) … people are prepared for a certificate in Special Vincentian Catechesis which is offered through our relationship with the Pontifical University of Mexico.
We have formed a Civic Association and we want to support, as much as possible, these disabled individuals and their family so that the process of integral evangelization becomes a reality.
- Catechesis: we seek to share our faith in Jesus Christ and we also attempt to do this through means of the relationships that we establish. We use a simple, personal and specialized method that is geared toward disabled individuals and their family. This is done on a weekly basis during the school year.
- Special: our service is directed toward “the special friends” and their family … sectors of our society who urgently need another form of catechesis that is appropriate to their situation.
- Vincentian: here we refer to our spirituality and our manner of viewing and serving people in need (thus imitating Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, the universal patrons of charity and social work … look upon and serve the poor in Jesus Christ).
The richness that we have received from so many people who have collaborated with us during the past fifteen years is reflected in the manual, workshops and different material that we have been able to publish. According to the feedback from the participants, we have had a positive influence on these various groups.
We believe that by accepting the “special friends” and providing them with a place in our church, we are also revealing to them the love of God for “the little ones” … whoever receives one of these little ones, receives me (Mark 9:37).
We form support groups with these families and “empower” them to be evangelizers of other families who are in the same situation (no one is more sensitive to those needs then those individuals who deal with this situation on a daily basis). We are also convinced that “the special friends and their family members evangelize us. Since catechesis is only possible in a supernatural environment, more specifically, in an atmosphere of prayer, no one approaches these “special friends” without having prayed first. Before each session, catechists and evangelizers participate in a holy hours at which the participants pray the Liturgy of the Hours and Lectio Divina with the gospel.
We want to help our “special friends” to become fully integrated into their community and society through means of an an inclusive catechesis, a process that Pope Francis states moves everyone toward the construction of the kingdom preached by Our Lord Jesus Christ, in an “Open Door Church.”
Dra. Leticia Ascencio de Lomeli,
National Advisor of CEV.