Pastor’s Corner for the First Sunday of Advent, Year B, by Fr. Bruce Botha SJ

persons with disabilities

We pray that people living with disabilities may be at the center of attention in society, and that institutions may offer inclusive programs which value their active participation.


Pope Francis places before the eyes of the Church those who live with disability of any kind. Let us join with him in praying the above prayer intention during the month of December.


Since the days of Fr Russell Pollitt SJ, Holy Trinity has attempted to make the Church more accessible to people. He put up a ramp for wheelchair access and handrails for the elderly or those needing help in climbing steps around the church building. He also introduced two signers to sign the homily and the intercessions for parishioners who are deaf, a practice which has continued to this day. Every Sunday the preacher at the 9h30 mass prints out a paper copy of his homily to make ensure that if the signer is not available there is at least a printed text available. These are the structural and operational things we are doing to make the parish more accessible to our parishioners with disabilities, but the most important part is done by our everyone else in the parish.


We can have all the accessibility gadgets in the world but unless those with disabilities feel welcomed and at home, they will not make our parish their spiritual home. It is up to up to help those with crutches or wheelchairs or walkers to not feel as though they are an unwelcome burden when it takes them a little longer to walk down the aisle to receive communion. We need to use our body language to speak our welcome to deaf parishioners. Look them in the eye, smile, wave, say hello as you clearly enunciate your words so that your lips can be read.


In 1978 the United States Catholic Bishops conference wrote an inspiring pastoral letter to the Church of America. They said:


If persons with disabilities are to become equal partners in the Christian community, injustices must be eliminated, and ignorance and apathy replaced by increased sensitivity and warm acceptance. Disabled individuals bring with them a special insight into the meaning of life, for they live, more than the rest of us, perhaps, in the shadow of the cross. And out of their experience they forge virtues such as courage, patience, perseverance, compassion, and sensitivity that should serve as an inspiration to all Christians.


I am grateful to be pastor to a community which takes its obligation to be welcoming for ALL as seriously as you do. If there are ways in which you think we can do better, please drop me line, and if at all possible, we will try to do so.



Fr. Bruce Botha SJ