It has been a wonderful day at the world meeting of families in Dublin our panel, which focused on the expereinces of disability in the family, was well attended by people from all over the world . This suggests a deeper awareness and interest in our ministry and demostrates the gift that story telling and disability bring to the church. In years gone by we would be the least attended in such a congress and in some cases we spoke in empty rooms with our voice not being considered important.
What is exciting is that this seems to be changing. Maeve and Micheal gave very powerful witnesses of thier lives asking people to see them for “WHO they are and not as a disabled person”.. the term ‘disabled person’ is a negative explanation of a life which hides the person from being who they were born to be. “We live full lives..” we were told and families gave witness to the joy of sharing and caring, highlighting how they can also be marginalised and issolated due to lack of emapthy and understanding. My talk asked everyone to think again about the negative images that are assigned to people and about the danger of stereotyping.. we are all equal because we are all different ! Unique Ability not disability.
Tim Kearney, the author of ‘a prophetic cry’ and member of the L’Arche community moderated our panel, asking us to think about three important questions and answer the quirie ‘ “will you be my friend.” Often a question asked by people who are disabled by negative attitudes.. Powerful stories from Maeve’s family and from Micheal ensured that we knew why and how to say yes !!!
As pope Francis tells us in his introduction to the family meeting “the family is the ‘yes’ to God’s love” so let us celebrate disability by understanding that each life is valued just because a person IS, and let us work to ensure that issolation and negativity is a thing of the past… it is time.. it is us. Let’s build the Church of belonging with love.