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Building community | Preserving history 2016 1 Pittsburgh Disability Catholic Awareness Magazine

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Awareness, advocacy, accessibility and acceptance of persons with disabilities is the act of loving God and our neighbors with all our heart and mind.

“There can be no separate church for persons of different races, colors, disabilities, or national origins. Indeed, the vitality of the Church can truly be measured by how we treat those whom society has often placed on the margins‌..The Diocese of Pittsburgh has worked for many years to ensure that we recognize all as brothers and sisters, that all are welcomed as persons of dignity and talent, that all are included fully in the life of the Church.â€? Most Rev. David A. Zubik, DD October 5, 2012

2900 Noblestown Road | Pittsburgh, PA 15205

2 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine

Disability Awareness 2016





Inside this issue:

4 | A life of service: Deacon Tim Killmeyer provides leadership to parishes and their advocates. 6 | Deafness is a culture: Twenty-three years of blessings. 8 | World Meeting of Families: Looking back a year at Philadelphia. 12 | Historic struggles: Preserving hard-fought rights for the disabled. 14 | Improving access: Little things mean so much. 16 | Special education: Helping everyone learn about Jesus. 20 | Emmaus Community: Bringing together people with and without disabilities. 25 | Innocence and simplicity: Visiting adults at McGuire Memorial.






On the cover...


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“Human nature, wounded by sin, is marked by limitations. We are familiar with the objections raised, especially nowadays, to a life characterized by serious physical limitations. It is thought that sick or disabled persons cannot be happy, since they cannot live the lifestyle held up by the culture of pleasure and entertainment.” Pope Francis, Mass for Jubilee for the Sick and Persons with Disabilities, June 12, 2016

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Cover design by David Pagesh

2016 Disability Awareness



Catholic MAGAZINE 135 First Ave. • Suite 200 Pittsburgh, PA 15222 1-800-392-4670

Vol. 8, No. 4 Publisher | Bishop David A. Zubik General Manager | Ann Rodgers Editor | William Cone Operations Manager | Carmella Weismantle Disabilities Awareness Project Editor William Cone Associate Editors Phil Taylor (Special Projects) Chuck Moody (News) Staff Writer | John W. Franko Graphic Designers Rita Cappella, E. Denise Shean Advertising Director Carmella Weismantle Account Executives Michael A. Check | Paul Crowe Michael Wire Circulation Mgr./Parish News Coord. Peggy Zezza Administrative Assistant | Karen Hanlin Office Assistant | Jean DeCarlo

Advertising: Editorial: Marketplace: Pittsburgh Catholic Disability Awareness Magazine is a complimentary publication available at all 192 Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the Pittsburgh Catholic Publishing Associates, Inc. Paid first-class delivered subscriptions are available.


Acceptance of an advertisement in the Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine, while based on an assumption of integrity on the part of the advertiser, does not imply endorsement by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 3

Deacon Tim Killmeyer: A life of service By DR. GRETA STOKES TUCKER

He uses his education, gifts and experiences to serve the body of Christ, and all of God’s people. 4 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine

Deacon Tim Killmeyer, who serves the diocesan Office for Cultural Diversity and Persons with Disabilities, with his wife, Chris. Described as passionate about raising awareness of the gifts of all people, especially those with disabilities, Deacon Tim Killmeyer recently received the Ken Wagner Award for Outstanding Service from the Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh. The award is named in honor of the co-founder of the Emmaus Community, an organization that provides residential care for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. According to the Emmaus Community, Wagner served without judging others or thinking of his own needs and wants, and exemplified the total giving of self for the service of others. He believed that God gave each person gifts and we are to use those gifts to serve one another. Deacon Killmeyer was chosen as the award recipient because he embodies the values of Wagner and the Emmaus Community’s vision. Ordained a permanent deacon in 1999, Deacon Killmeyer is assigned to Holy Trinity Parish in Robinson Township. In addition, his diaconal ministry of service and charity is in

the Office for Cultural Diversity and Persons with Disabilities, where he provides valuable leadership to parishes and parish advocates for persons with disabilities. He is compassionate, caring and dedicated to his faith and diaconal responsibilities. He is passionate about the role and service of the parish-based advocates and their ability to form teams to help their parishes become more inclusive and welcoming of people with various disabilities — physical, cognitive, visual and auditory. “This is not about ramps,” Deacon Killmeyer said, “nor is it about people WE can do things FOR. It is about recognizing the gifts and talents of each of God’s people. People who have gifts to offer the world. And gifts that the world cannot afford to overlook.” Present at the award ceremony was Deacon Killmeyer’s wife, Chris, who was permanently disabled in a car accident 30-some years ago. As Chris’ full-time caregiver, he understands the challenges —

See Killmeyer, Page 6 Disability Awareness 2016

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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 5

Jesus hears me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so By FATHER WALT RYDZON In the Gospel story (Mark, Chapter 7) about Jesus healing the man who was deaf, it speaks about him taking the man aside. The story says Jesus spit and touched the man’s tongue, and he was able to speak and hear. But I’ve always wondered about what might have happened when they were alone. Did Jesus speak to the man? And, even though there was no such thing as sign language at the time, did Jesus sign to the man? Or from the other side, did the man “hear” what Jesus was saying to him? Such is the wonder of God and miracles. I was pastor to the Catholic Deaf Community of Pittsburgh for the last 23 years. To say this has been a gift does an injustice to the word “gift.” Try looking up the definition of the word “blessing,” and add in a mixture of grace, humility, and throw in awe for dessert. God “hears” all prayers and knows all languages, including American Sign Language. And please, American Sign Language is NOT English. Too many pastors of parishes who choose not to have interpreters at their Masses think the deaf can simply

KILLMEYER Continued from Page 4

parish, societal, attitudinal — for those with a disability and the needs of caregivers, family and health professionals. During these years, his faith has grown. “Time and again in the rearview mirror of my life, I can see the intervention of the Holy Spirit,” Deacon Killmeyer said. From becoming a corporate chef to earning a bachelor’s degree in theology and a master’s in religious education at Duquesne University and ordination to the permanent

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Father Walt Rydzon interprets a Mass for the Catholic Deaf Community. “Read the missalette and follow along.” The deaf community has had a home in Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington neighborhood for the last 23 years, first at St. Justin and now at St. Mary of the Mount. A fully signed Mass is offered every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. with deaf readers, a deaf choir, a deaf response leader, fully certified interpreters, and a priest who signs the Mass — either myself or Father Michael Stumpf. Deafness is a culture, and that culture brings the deaf from all over the city and from as far as 45 minutes away to celebrate the Eucharist with their culture, their language and spend some time afterward in conversation and friendship. Would you travel from Fombell (Beaver County) to Pittsburgh for the Eucharist? From Washington (Washington County) to Mount Washington for Sunday Mass? I think not. But the deaf do. They celebrate diaconate by then-Bishop Donald Wuerl, Deacon Killmeyer has been guided by his faith and the Holy Spirit. He uses his education, gifts and experiences to serve the body of Christ, and all of God’s people. His diaconal responsibilities keep him busy at Holy Trinity and performing various diocesan assignments and initiatives. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, Deacon Killmeyer serves on the board of the Montour Trail Council that provides oversight for the 46-mile regional trail from Coraopolis to Clairton and links with the Great Allegheny Passage trails to Washington, D.C., a combined total of 320 miles. Besides hiking, he enjoys bicycling and riding his motorcycle.

the Eucharist in their language along with a hearing culture that is weekly picking up sign language just by osmosis. Our signed Mass is also our children’s Liturgy of the Word for St. Mary of the Mount Parish, so the 11:30 a.m. liturgy is a nice blending of deaf and young hearing and deaf families. The Diocese of Pittsburgh has a long history of reaching out to those with disabilities. The deaf can do anything you and I can do except one thing: They cannot hear. Why not come and experience this bicultural Eucharist? Why not come and see how some people worship God with their voices and some with their hands? Then go home and read that Gospel of Mark passage and wonder: “Maybe Jesus did say something or ... did sign something to that deaf man before he healed him.”

Father Rydzon is the retired chaplain of the Catholic Deaf Community. The diocese is blessed to have Deacon Killmeyer as one of its clergy serving with abundant faith and commitment to all of God’s people. His words of wisdom express why he deserved the Emmaus Community tribute: “The more you give of yourself and put your life into the hands of the Holy Spirit, you discover you are capable of doing so much more than you previously thought possible.” He is an inspiration to many. Well done, Deacon Killmeyer.

Tucker, former director of the Office for Cultural Diversity and Persons with Disabilities, works in the Secretariat for Parish Services.

Disability Awareness 2016

Let’s Talk About Different Abilities The people we support have many life challenges, including physical and intellectual disabilities, psychiatric and neurological diagnoses, and more. Their biggest challenge, though, is the labels that people place on them. Labels like “disabled,” ”incapable,” “restricted,” “incapacitated.” The truth is, they just have different abilities … they use their abilities differently than those with “typical abilities” do. They are still people who think, read, play, work, and enjoy family and friends. They are just like you and me. At InVision, we do not limit the people we serve. They are integrally involved in decisions about their lives. They determine where and how they live, what they eat, how they spend their free time, who they call friends and neighbors. This is what you and I want, and how we live. We believe everyone should be able to do this, regardless of their physical or intellectual abilities. And we help make that a reality for the people we support. Thank you for supporting people with disabilities by smiling at them, working alongside them, and talking with them. You can also help by donating to organizations who provide services so they can live a meaningful life. InVision is one of those organizations. Thank you for your support. tel: 724-933-5100 12450 Perry Highway, Wexford, PA 15090

2016 Disability Awareness

Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 7

World Meeting of Families and the Scanlons By CATHERINE SCANLON

8 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine

From left, Helen, Catherine and Ann Scanlon at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. In the frosty morning air of Sept. 22, 2015, I gathered at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton at 5:45 a.m. with two of my daughters, Helen and Ann, and another 127 people to take a bus to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. Because Ann has a disability and needs a wheelchair, she was loaded on the bus first. Then, before everyone else boarded the bus, Bishop David Zubik came to pray with us. We had loaded Ann too soon to join in the prayer service. When to get on a bus, how to get around steps, the width of an elevator or height of a bed are all things that people without disabilities do not often have to consider, but become regular thoughts when

someone has or lives with someone with a disability. Thankfully, when hurdles get in Ann’s way, the Lord shows us ways around them, and sometimes extra blessings come because of them. After the bishop prayed with everyone, he came on the bus to tell Ann how glad he was that she was part of this pilgrimage. His sentiments added to the growing aura of family and blessings that traveled with us on this trip. Around the same time that our buses pulled out of the parking lot, our Holy Father was boarding a plane that would begin his

See Scanlon, Page 10 Disability Awareness 2016

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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 9


Continued from Page 8 journey to Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. We felt the physical and spiritual coming together of our family in the church and we felt blessed by Pope Francis, the Catholic Church and each other, and blessed by the presence of our Lord as we embarked on this journey. Philadelphia did a great job preparing for the week. The streets were lined with banners welcoming Pope Francis or quoting him: “We all have the duty to do good,” “Love is the measure of faith,” “Have the courage to be happy.” The pope’s joyfulness filled the City of Brotherly Love. We arrived at the enormous convention center and received our packed, see-through backpacks (for going through security) with all of our conference gear inside. In the main hall we saw the Lenox bowl gift with Philadelphia on one side and the Vatican on the other and a white two-wheeled bicycle that was specially made for Pope Francis. The mayor of Philadelphia announced that 100 regular bikes were being given to an organization that helps needy children in honor of the pope’s visit. Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, in the opening keynote address, said that Jesus calls us to sainthood. He said the family is the basic cell of civilization. Families teach a sense of mission. The family is where basic moral truths are taught and practiced. We need to rediscover who we are and meant to be, and carry God’s image to the world.

Every night Helen stood on the bed, grabbed Ann under her arms and lunged backward, landing flat with Ann on top of her. It was a hilarious move, and every night the three of us ended up laughing on the bed. This was a microcosm of the whole week. The opening Mass that followed was beautiful. The celebration was dedicated to the religious life. The auditorium was huge and the wall behind the altar was about half a block long. It had huge pictures of saints who had spent their lives in a religious order. The homily conveyed that, in growing up

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The Scanlons had to find an innovative solution to get Ann into her bed every night. in a family, we learn from one another in a covenant relationship, we learn more than by teaching. This was just the beginning of a series of powerful, moving and insightful talks we would experience all week through keynote addresses, homilies and breakout sessions. Cardinal Robert Sarah, of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, spoke of how Christ’s light shines through the darkness, and receiving the gift of charity through the Holy Spirit can allow a person to live as Jesus did, in communion with God and others. The Christian family becomes a witness to this, a wellspring of faith, hope and love in today’s world. The Rev. Terrence Griffith, of First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia, spoke about the difficulties for urban families and how showing care to clean up a neighborhood can lift up the residents and create positive change for the families. Helen Alvare, law professor at George Mason University, spoke of the implications of God linking love with new life — for married couples, raising children and for

understanding the meaning of life. Dr. Janet Smith, who holds the Father Michael J. McGivney chair of life ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and has served as a consultor to the Pontifical Council on the Family, spoke about the care for her mother’s dementia and how she learned to give compliments, never scold and ask permission. Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston spoke of how trust in God’s plan for family can lead us to live a life of daring faith and contagious joy, embodying the beatitudes of Christ to make a difference when faced with suffering and sadness. Every talk was thought-provoking and powerful, and yet I was only able to hear a fraction of them because there were so many to choose from in each breakout session. The vast exhibit area was so full that Ann and Helen, choosing to skip a breakout session, were only able to get through a third of it. Each day was so full that our room and bed were a welcome sight. The first night, after learning about our fellow Pittsburgh pilgrims at a reception in the hotel lobby, compliments of the Pittsburgh Diocese,

Disability Awareness 2016

we headed to our room grateful and tired. Every night Ann transfers into bed by using a walker to stand up and pivoting her body so she can sit down on the bed. She has become a pro at this at home, and it has become routine. We started this process in the hotel room only to realize that the bed was too high for Ann to sit on. We were going to have to figure out a different way to get Ann on the bed. Undaunted, Helen figured out a way. Every night Helen stood on the bed, grabbed Ann under her arms and lunged backward, landing flat with Ann on top of her. It was a hilarious move, and every night the three of us ended up laughing on the bed. This was a microcosm of the whole week. Every time an obstacle popped up, the “family” of people around us answered with a joyful response. A pregnant woman and man helped Ann out of a rut her wheelchair was stuck in. Unbeknownst to us, Cindy Tortorea, who works for the diocese, worked diligently to try to get us a ride to Mass and failed, yet cried tears of joy when she found that we had already been. An elevator proved to be too small, and Ann stood on her walker while Father Roger White ran her wheelchair up the stairs. A few people even got stuck outside of the Mass on the final day due to incredibly long lines in security, but responded that that must have been where God wanted them; they refused to be upset. This spirit of joy and gratitude radiated from every space and person we met. By the time Saturday afternoon arrived, the blocked-off streets awaiting Pope Francis’ arrival were overflowing with smiling people and spontaneous and organized singing and dancing. When the popemobile came down the Parkway the joy was palpable. They had performances all afternoon, then Pope Francis told us he wanted to see all of us at the 4 p.m. Sunday Mass. On Sunday morning, Helen said we had to get up and get moving. I said it was our only day to sleep in and Mass wasn’t until 4 p.m. Helen insisted, and she was absolutely right. The hotel had breakfast bags ready for us. We walked to the Parkway and lined up for security. It was fun. Everyone was talking and excited about the pope. After about an hour, a police officer appeared and told us we should move to the fence and go straight through to security. We worked our way through five lines and followed the fence to the security point. They took us straight through. Again, a volunteer took us to the platform we had been on Saturday. This time we got the last spots on the front row of the platform. It was great. The platform soon

2016 Disability Awareness

Bishop David Zubik greets Ann, who was part of the diocesan delegation from Pittsburgh for the World Meeting of Families and visit by Pope Francis. filled up. A volunteer questioned two of us not in wheelchairs, but decided since Helen was the caregiver and I was the ancient mom we could stay. While waiting for the pope, Ann, Helen and I said a rosary for the whole family. We brought petitions with us when we came. They were for the pope and written by the children from our parish school, now called Christ the Divine Teacher Catholic Academy, Sacred Heart School where two of my grandkids attend, and St. Joan of Arc, where Helen teaches. The Sacred Heart children wrote theirs on little red paper hearts and placed them in an envelope that had a big red heart on the front. Some of the petitions were heartwrenching, coming from children in difficult circumstances. The petitions had been placed in baskets in front of the sanctuary at the Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. A nun had conceived writing petitions on long, thin paper strips. They had 150,000 of these petitions, so they made a domeshaped lattice-work frame outside the chapel of the cathedral basilica. People tied their petitions to the frame. They called it the “knotted grotto.” You couldn’t even see the church through the petitions. When the popemobile came around the Parkway, the Holy Father had them stop

at the basilica, and he got out and put his hands on the hanging petitions. I felt all our petitions, inside and outside, were blessed. The pope made about seven more stops to kiss babies. As I write this, one of the little ones that the pope kissed that day is on our news. She was a little girl with an inoperable brain tumor that has been shrinking ever since the pope kissed her. Her vocal chords had always been frozen, and now they are not. Her doctors say there is no explanation and her family says it is a miracle. When Pope Francis held up the consecrated host there was complete reverent silence. At Communion, two long lines started out, one on either side of the Parkway. They consisted of a priest with hosts and a partner holding a huge white and yellow umbrella over his head. The umbrellas had the papal crest on top. Someone gave us Communion on the platform. Later that night, our bodies were tired, but our spirits were full. The next morning, we boarded the bus home to Pittsburgh, recalling our blessings that outnumbered the miles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Scanlon is a parish advocate for persons with disabilities at St. Scholastica in Aspinwall.

Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 11

Preserving the historic struggle of people with disabilities By JOHN L. TAGUE JR. The Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium is a newly formed affiliation of organizations and interested parties dedicated to preserving the history of the struggle for human and civil rights by and for western Pennsylvanians with disabilities. The consortium’s primary goal is to raise awareness of disability rights history and educate the public and other stakeholders through research, preservation and outreach activities. A comprehensive and activist approach to promoting understanding of the struggle for disability rights is essential to maintaining these rights and ensuring humane policies and laws. By preserving and disseminating the history of the struggle to attain these rights, the consortium seeks to strengthen those rights, increase the community’s commitment to full access and inclusion, and elevate the social and economic status of local people with disabilities. Among the organizations affiliated with the consortium are the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Achieva, the Heinz History Center, Community Living and Support Services, National Alliance for Mental Illness, and the Pennsylvania History Coalition Honoring People with Disability. And we expect to have additional affiliates representing a wide range of advocacy and community interests. Prior to the enactment of federal laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities (from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975 to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), western Pennsylvanians with disabilities and others across the United States were routinely segregated from the mainstream of community life, institutionalized, subjected to mistreatment and denied appropriate education.

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The Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium has plans to chronicle the history and current status of facilities that were built many decades ago to care for people with disabilities. The struggle to address the devaluation of citizens with disabilities has only recently been considered worthy of a place in American history. Similar to the “invisibility” of people with disabilities in the past, the history of their struggle has not been widely preserved or told. In western Pennsylvania and elsewhere, historical artifacts and materials have not been archived, and methods of disseminating the history through exhibits and other media have not been developed. Fortunately, attention to preserving and disseminating disability history is growing at the state and national levels, thanks to growing understanding that history can be an effective tool to create more inclusive communities. Western Pennsylvania has a definite need to organize and develop in this way. The consortium will take the lead in this effort. The consortium has begun to meet to develop its mission and goals. Funding for the planning and organizational phase is being supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council, after which the consortium will rely on resources from organizations like the Three Rivers Community Foundation to complete various projects set forth in the plan. Specific goals, objectives, outcomes and

Examples of the types of projects that the consortium may consider include traveling history exhibits, a permanent exhibit at a museum, a forum or conference that promotes community dialogue, and developing educational curricula for schools. timeframes will be established for each project in the action plan. Examples of the types of projects that the consortium may consider include traveling history exhibits, a permanent exhibit at a museum, a forum or conference that promotes community dialogue, and developing educational curricula for schools. Any individual or organization with an interest in joining the consortium or providing information for its work is invited to contact me, as the project director, at 412-952-5402 or

Tague is a parish advocate for persons with disabilities at St. Stephen Parish in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood.

Disability Awareness 2016



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Little things mean a lot

This morning around 10 o’clock, as I walked into the muted light of our stainedglass-lit church, I found two veteran parishioners huddled over the front pew where our precious special-needs worshipers generally sit. As I got closer I could see what they were doing. They were measuring the cushions on these pews. “They need replaced, and we want to make them an inch higher this time,” one of them explained. When another husband-and-wife team realized they had the expertise to round up the people with the know-how to install a handicap-accessible bathroom in our aging church, they got the approval and moved ahead on the project. This restroom has been a blessing for many over the years that it has been in service. Projects don’t have to be big or anything major. Seeing a need in the parish and doing it; that’s what can make a difference for many other people. Each of us can make a difference.


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Hopefully, many willing hearts make the load lighter for everyone. But the everyday “little things mean a lot” crowd can’t be replaced. They are the rocks our church is built upon because they are a reflection of Jesus’ care for everyone, regardless of how big or small.

Who are those quiet volunteers in your parish who step up to put a fresh coat of paint where it’s needed? What about those who regularly straighten books in the pews or pick up stray papers as they leave after Mass? Are you the one who holds the door for others or has a ready smile and a welcoming “Hello!” to those around you? How long does it take in your parish for someone to alert maintenance people that a pew has loosened from its moorings? One parishioner noticed bees coming and going in bushes near a walkway. In a short time, there was caution tape around the area telling others to stay clear until the bees could be removed. Little things mean a lot.

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Changing a few words can increase the function of an area. The “cry room” became the “comfort room” a few years back. It continues to serve the purpose of providing a room to help families with restless children to participate more fully in Mass. But now those who have disabilities, preventing them from sitting in the main body of the congregation, have a place to participate in Mass. One of the most heartwarming statements was from a person who stopped in the office, saying to the secretary, “I just retired and want to do something to help around church. What can I do?” True, there is always a need for people to serve on the pastoral council or chair an event. Parishes are blessed with those who have these gifts and talents. Hopefully, many willing hearts make the load lighter for everyone. But the everyday “little things mean a lot” crowd can’t be replaced. They are the rocks our church is built upon because they are a reflection of Jesus’ care for everyone, regardless of how big or small. Thanks, and God bless you for all you do for us.

Accessibility challenges are everywhere, and parishes try to make their church buildings open to all.

Spohn is a member of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Herman.

Pope: Christians can’t ignore suffering By JUNNO AROCHO ESTEVES Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY — Turning your head away from the suffering of others is a grave sin, and simply saying some prayers or going to Mass does not make a good Christian of someone who ignores those in need, Pope Francis said. The plight of those who suffer in the world today is a modern-day Calvary that “spurs us on to offer ever new signs of mercy,” the pope said in early September at a special audience for people engaged in the works of mercy, as well as for pilgrims in Rome for the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata. “I will never tire of saying that the mercy of God is not some beautiful idea but rather a concrete action,” Pope Francis said. “There is no mercy without concreteness. Mercy is not doing something good while passing by; it means involving yourself there where there is evil, where there is sickness, where there is

2016 Disability Awareness

hunger, where there is human exploitation.” Making his way around the square in his popemobile, the pope invited six blue-shirted girls from a choir to ride with him. The special audience began with testimonies. With his voice breaking with emotion, Roberto Giannone, an Italian, told about how he served time in prison for crimes he didn’t commit. His experience, he said, led him to dedicate his life to visiting and assisting the imprisoned with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The pope and thousands of pilgrims sat on the edge of their chairs listening to the testimony of Missionaries of Charity Sister Mary Sally, the sole member of Mother Teresa’s order who survived a brutal attack at a nursing home in Yemen in March. Four Missionaries of Charity and 12 other people were killed by uniformed gunmen, who

See Pope, Page 17

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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 15

Special education program leads hearts to Jesus By CATHY BAYSEK For more than a half-century, the special education program at Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood has led hundreds of students, young and old, to come to know and love Jesus and experience him in a loving community. Welcoming all individuals with special learning or developmental needs, teachers and helpers prepare lessons geared specifically to the strengths and abilities of the participants assigned to his or her class. It is often the case that these volunteers receive more from their students’ lessons and examples than they give. Karen, who has been part of the program for decades, finds being a teacher one of her life’s great blessings. Over the years, she has come to know what each student expects of her and what she can expect from them. “Every person there has a unique personality and a special gift that makes me smile,” she said. “We are all welcomed, and we all belong — that’s the feeling I get. “We have those who never fail to notice a new haircut, or someone’s shoes, or a piece of jewelry,” Karen said. “Among our students there are jokesters and singers and actors and artists and leaders. There are those who need a hug, and those who hug often. And there are some who just like to quietly watch and listen and smile. “Our group is a sort of family, and I love them all. I can say that I go home each Saturday in a better mood and happier

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Disabilities awareness is a constant priority at Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood. state of mind, thanks to the people who make up the class.” Another teacher, Carole, shared the story of a young woman in her class who is happy to come to special ed because she is able to talk and learn about Jesus. When she lived at home with her parents before they died, they would often talk about Jesus and attend Mass together. Now, living in a group home, she welcomes the opportunity to share her faith with her family at special ed.

“However, I was so hot and tired, I thought, ‘I cannot do this again.’ Then on the bus ride home, my partner looked over at me and said, ‘This was the best day of my life.’” “Our students are very honest and truthful,” Carole said. “There is no pretense or facade about them. Many of them are a ray of sunshine and become friends forever.” Mike is a teacher in the program who brings his love for music into his classroom. “My class motto could be

‘Happiness is singing your heart out,’” he said. Under Mike’s direction, students and staff enjoy learning new songs, playing a variety of musical instruments and working on accompanying signs and motions. He often quotes St. Augustine, telling his students that “he who sings prays twice.” Another helper shared his story about the group’s trip to Idlewild amusement park during the second week of August. “It had to be the hottest day of the week. While making sure everyone was OK, we were able to enjoy the park. However, I was so hot and tired, I thought, ‘I cannot do this again.’ Then on the bus ride home, my partner looked over at me and said, ‘This was the best day of my life.’ My heart was so filled with joy that I closed my eyes and thanked God for the chance to share the day with one of God’s children.” The Most Holy Name of Jesus special education program meets on Saturday mornings throughout the school year, and gathers for various daytime and evening activities. For more information, contact me at 412-303-3768.

Baysek directs the special education program at Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish.

Disability Awareness 2016


Pope Francis at an audience for people engaged in the works of mercy Sept. 3.

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for the “suffering, for those who are discarded by society and for the volunteers who go in search of the flesh of Christ.� The pope also prayed for those “who look the other way; who in their hearts hear a voice that says, ‘It is not my concern; I don’t care.’�

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entered the home the sisters operated for the elderly and disabled in Aden. A Salesian priest who worked with the sisters was kidnapped and his whereabouts are still unknown. With shortages of food, water and medicine and the increasing violence going on around them in Yemen, Sister Mary Sally said her heart was “filled with greater love and enthusiasm.� “We beg God to continue using our nothingness to make the church present in the world today through the mission entrusted to us by our Mother Teresa, even amid dangerous surroundings,� she said. In his talk, the pope reflected on St. Paul’s call to live with a love, which “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.� “The love of which the apostle speaks is not something abstract or vague,� the pope said. “Rather, it is a love that is seen, touched and experienced first-hand.� The culmination of this love is Jesus’ death


Continued from Page 15



on Calvary, a love that can be seen today in those who suffer due to poverty, sickness and evil, he said. The church “cannot look away and turn her back on the many forms of poverty that cry out for mercy,� he said. Pope Francis thanked Catholic volunteers, saying their work in giving “shape and visibility to mercy� makes them “among the most precious things in the church.� By making those who suffer feel loved, the volunteers are the “extended hand of Christ� and defy the individualism in today’s culture that causes people to think only of themselves and “to ignore the brother or sister in need.� “The world stands in need of concrete signs of solidarity, especially as it is faced with the temptation to indifference,� the pope said. On the eve of the Sept. 4 canonization of Mother Teresa, the pope called on the volunteers to follow her and other saints in making “the love of Christ visible.� “Let us also imitate their example, as we ask to be humble instruments in God’s hands in order to alleviate the world’s sufferings and to share the joy and hope of the resurrection,� the pope said. At the end of the audience, Pope Francis led the volunteers in a moment of silent prayer

Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 17

On Mission: Building community By DEACON TIM KILLMEYER By now I think most of us are aware of our diocese’s On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative. A lot of time and effort is being spent answering the question: “How can we, as church, best meet the spiritual needs of the people living in the six counties of western Pennsylvania that comprise the Diocese of Pittsburgh?” Our mission is no different than that of Jesus — to proclaim the Good News (Gospel) and declare that the kingdom of God is at hand for all who believe. In a nutshell, the mission is the salvation of souls. But as Jesus went about on his mission, he had many encounters with people who were marginalized by their culture and society. Many times those people had a disability that automatically put them outside the community. It is often recognized that Jesus not only healed them and/or forgave their sins but — just as meaningful — restored them to community. As we take the next steps in our task of

18 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine

building parishes for the future as part of the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative, we can’t let those people who continue to be marginalized by society become an afterthought to our planning.

But as Jesus went about on his mission, he had many encounters with people who were marginalized by their culture and society. I don’t just mean asking “Which worship site has the best ramps or the most handicapped parking places?” — though that should definitely be a consideration, along with using those sites for later Mass times to accommodate people who need extra time in the morning to prepare to leave the house. But we need to take the time to think about new ways to meet the spiritual needs of those people who might not be

able to get to Mass every week. Who are the senior citizens living in your territory who can’t drive anymore? What kind of transportation solutions can be found? And not just for Mass, but for Eucharistic adoration, prayer services, parish missions and festivals. Do you need a unified welcoming committee? It should never be about “numbers,” but maybe in your new census you’ve identified a number of people with hearing difficulties. Can at least one of your sites be set up with assisted-listening devices? Do you even ask on your census or parish registration forms if people have any “special needs?” Now is the time to start asking those kinds of questions and others like them. Two or three years from now will be too late. The time to open up your community to everyone is NOW!

Deacon Killmeyer serves Holy Trinity Parish in Robinson Township and the diocesan Office for Cultural Diversity and Persons with Disabilities.

Disability Awareness 2016

Famed French geneticist to receive medal NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) — The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture will award the 2017 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal to a foundation begun by the late pro-life French geneticist Jerome Lejeune. Lejeune, who died in 1994, was internationally known for his staunch support of pro-life causes. The Catholic physician and researcher was one of the three discoverers of the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome. In 1989, he established the Jerome Lejeune Foundation to continue his work in research, advocacy and health care for those with intellectual disabilities. Today, the foundation has branches in Paris, Philadelphia, Madrid and Dubai, making it the largest private funder of research into genetic therapies in the world. The Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal is a lifetime achievement award given “to heroes of the pro-life movement,” the announcement said. It honors individuals whose efforts “have served to steadfastly affirm and defend the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages.” The recipient is announced annually on Respect Life Sunday, which this year was Oct. 2. The award, which is comprised of a specially commissioned medal and $10,000 prize, will be presented April 29, 2017, at Notre Dame. “Professor Lejeune was a man of great faith, a brilliant geneticist and a prophetic voice on behalf of people who suffer from intellectual disabilities,” said O. Carter Snead, the William P. and Hazel B. White director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. “He spent his professional life engaged in cutting-edge scientific research into the genetic causes of disabilities like Down syndrome and trisomy 18. He was motivated by deep compassion and an abiding love for disabled people, born and unborn,” he said in a statement. Today, Lejeune’s foundation carries on his work “by sponsoring ethically conducted genetic research, securing health care for those with disabilities, and performing advocacy on behalf of the disabled in light of our shared human dignity,” Snead said, adding that the organization “perfectly embodies the spirit of the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal.” The Jerome Lejeune Foundation is the world’s largest private funder of research into genetic therapies. Its chairman is JeanMarie Le Mene and its vice president is Berthe Lejeune, the widow of the geneticist. Jerome Lejeune, born in 1926 in Montrouge, France, established the first specialized

2016 Disability Awareness

clinic for Down syndrome patients at Necker Children’s Hospital near Paris. In 1958, while studying chromosomes linked to Down syndrome, he discovered an unexpected third chromosome on the 21st pair, a genetic abnormality he named trisomy 21. This discovery was the first to link an intellectual disability to a genetic cause. Lejeune also conducted pioneering research into trisomy 18 and trisomies on the eighth and ninth chromosomal pairs. Having discovered the genetic causes of these intellectual disabilities, Lejeune sought therapies to ameliorate their effects, believing that eventually a cure would be found for trisomies. Lejeune also devoted his life to protecting unborn children with Down syndrome from so-called “therapeutic

abortion,” which he regarded as a grave corruption of medicine. “Medicine becomes mad science when it attacks the patient instead of fighting the disease,” he said. “We must always be on the patient’s side, always.” In 1962, Lejeune was honored by President John Kennedy with the first Kennedy Prize for his research into intellectual disabilities. In 1969, he received the William Allen Award from the American Society of Human Genetics, the highest award possible for a geneticist. He was appointed by St. John Paul II as the first president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. A sainthood cause for Lejeune was opened in 2007; he was given the title “servant of God” by the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes in 2012.


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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 19

The Emmaus table From the Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh

“Meals are daily celebrations where we meet each other around the same table to be nourished and share in joy.” — Jean Vanier 20 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine

Erhard and Charlie make holiday cookies together. When our Emmaus Community gathers, we often open with the words of Jean Vanier, who has dedicated his life to building communities that bring people with and without disabilities together. These particular words speak to our core values. At the Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, we come together at one table to share our lives. We have many differences and many gifts. Our days are sometimes messy, full of joys and sorrows, and, like everyone else, we become busy and distracted. But at Emmaus, we will always take the time to sit down, break bread and celebrate our togetherness. We have many opportunities to gather — whether at our annual gala or a Pirates game — but none is more important than the nightly meal that is prepared at each Emmaus home. In these homes, up to three individuals with intellectual

disabilities live together and receive 24hour support from a caring team of direct support professionals. If you visited an Emmaus home at dinner time, you would see the Emmaus mission in action: residents and their caregivers work together to set the table and cook the food, each contributing according to his or her abilities. They sit around one table, share a simple grace and enjoy the meal together. In doing so, people have an opportunity to relax and connect. Residents and Emmaus staff members discuss their days, share news and concerns, and build real relationships with one another. In the Scripture from which Emmaus draws its name, two disciples who didn’t recognize Jesus while walking the road to Emmaus recognized him only later, at the table, when “their eyes were opened in the breaking of the bread.” At Emmaus, it is through this daily fellowship

Disability Awareness 2016

Emmaus residents enjoy some fun and fellowship at Seven Springs. and communion that we come to see the true gifts and value of each person. Providing care for others is not an easy job. Emmaus direct support professionals work around the clock, weekends and holidays, early mornings and overnights, ensuring that every Emmaus resident has the opportunity to live a full and meaningful life. They assist the residents with their health care, transportation, domestic skills, recreation, vocational needs and spiritual practices.

Emmaus direct support professionals work around the clock, weekends and holidays, early mornings and overnights, ensuring that every Emmaus resident has the opportunity to live a full and meaningful life. The work is often challenging, and the responsibility is great. However, again and again Emmaus DSPs have described their work as transformative. They have used words like “family,” “community” and “respect.” They have stated that the residents of Emmaus have changed their lives for the better; that they have become more empathetic, more understanding and better people in their time at Emmaus; that what they have given is far less than what they have received in doing

See Emmaus, Page 22 2016 Disability Awareness

Matt and Cece head out to a dance.

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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 21


Continued from Page 21 this work. This is the spirit of community, and it is the spirit of life at Emmaus. People with and without disabilities are sharing their lives, respecting one another and building each other up. We are nourished by our time together. It happens not only in the big moments, but in the small ones, at the dinner table, with a shared laugh between friends. These moments are truly life-changing, and we invite everyone to come join us as part of this community, whether as a direct support professional, volunteer or friend. We really do need your help.

For more information about how to get involved with the Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, contact or 412-381-0277.

22 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine

Jamisha and Michele relax on the porch.

Disability Awareness 2016

Order of Malta camp offers love, respect By DOREEN ABI RAAD Catholic News Service CHABROUH, Lebanon — In a pristine mountain setting in Lebanon, a female volunteer gently takes hold of the hands of Mohammed, a disabled adult who has trouble communicating. She gazes into his eyes — still shaded in heart-shaped sunglasses from the dress-up activity a few hours earlier — as she engages him in a dance to the rhythm of the music playing in the background. Smiling contentedly, Mohammed bows his head to kiss her hand, and she responds with a kiss on his forehead. “By showing acts of love, we are demonstrating that everyone is made in the image and likeness of God,” Anton Depiro, a 30-year-old Catholic volunteer from London, told Catholic News Service during a recent camp for people with disabilities, run by the Order of Malta Lebanon. As Depiro affectionately put his arm around Mohammed, he introduced his middle-aged guest like a proud brother, saying, “He’s very shy and quiet.” He told CNS they were “working together slowly and getting to know each other, and we’re finding ways we can interact.” The issue of disability is still somewhat of a taboo in Lebanon, and families often experience shame when they have a child with a disability. Because the Lebanese government does not offer support for people with disabilities, many families resort to putting their family member into an institution, where there is little connection with the outside world. The Order of Malta Lebanon addresses this inadequacy by bringing together disabled people from institutional settings and volunteers to spend a week together at its center in Chabrouh for a camp. Each disabled “guest” is paired with a volunteer for complete care and attention. One of the aims of the Order of Malta Lebanon camp is to give guests “the love and respect they deserve and to give them back

2016 Disability Awareness


Melkite Father Romanos Bou Assi, director of the Order of Malta Lebanon’s center in Chabrouh, Lebanon, poses for a photo. their humanity,” Patrick Jabre, project director for the Chabrouh camp, told Catholic News Service. Jabre was among the first volunteers when the organization hosted its first camp there in 1997. Depiro said volunteering with the guests can be challenging, for example, waking them to wash and get dressed for the day. “But it’s simply about sharing love with our brothers and sisters. After a while, you find the guest starts to look after you,” he said. The motto at Chabrouh is “Our guests are our lords, and we are here to serve them.” So, if a guest signals to the volunteer a desire not to participate in the group activity in progress, the pair might instead play a quiet game, or just sit together and hold hands while taking in the spectacular views from the camp. Chabrouh, which is near Faraya, a popular skiing destination, is 6,200 feet above sea level. Camp activities include hiking, olive picking, theater plays, “Olympic” games as well as an outing to the beach. Jack Straker, 25, a Catholic volunteer from England, said his guest, Charbel, who is mute, “has ups and downs all day.” Middle-aged Charbel sometimes makes sounds of approval or disapproval. That morning, Charbel especially enjoyed washing up. “Charbel likes to receive kisses. He goes up to people and presents his cheek,” Straker added. “To see the face of God in the face of the guest helps to renew a lot of people’s faith,” Straker said, referring to the Chabrouh camp experience as a “silent evangelization.” Each day begins and ends with a group prayer. Mass is celebrated most days, and confession and anointing of the sick are available.

Melkite Father Romanos Bou Assi, director of the center, said the daily schedule “is always engulfed in the grace of the Lord.” Although the volunteers come from different paths and an active Christian spiritual life is not a prerequisite, the camp experience encourages them to “think deeply about the meaning of their lives,” Father Bou Assi told CNS. Such reflection, while working closely with the disabled, the priest explained, also can help volunteers to understand “the things that sometimes cripple us in life” and the importance of having a relationship with God. This year’s schedule at Chabrouh included Order of Malta volunteers from four European countries as well as from Lebanon for 18 separate weeklong camps, including two at Christmastime. In all, about 650 volunteers and 500 guests — 15-20 percent of whom are Muslim — will participate. The organization also hopes to receive delegations from North and South and America for future camps. After each camp, volunteers with the Order of Malta Lebanon visit the former guests where they reside. The order also sponsors a course for college students, who spend 10 months in Lebanon learning about the region, faith and coexistence, while working daily with the disabled in institutions across the country. Marwan Sehnaoui, president of the Order of Malta Lebanon, fondly refers to the Chabrouh camp as “a little family” and a “house to learn how to love.” “When you look around you and see the state of the world, you understand that something is missing,” Sehnaoui told CNS, citing murder, suicide and bloodshed rampant in the world today. “So we decided that the spirituality of this house is to teach how to love. Because a world without love cannot work.”

Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 23

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Disability Awareness 2016

Friends of ‘innocence, simplicity and purity’ By JUDY DACANAY I have been attending weekday Mass with the adults at McGuire Memorial’s main facility in New Brighton for two years. These are some of the most enjoyable hours of my week. I am grateful to share time with these individuals, who are severely and profoundly disabled. Their innocence, simplicity and purity remind me of what holiness looks like. The adults at McGuire, who I consider my friends, express themselves in many uplifting ways. For example, one female friend is verbal and has an almost perfect memory for the Mass. However, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist she makes a small, inadvertent change when we recite: “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name ‌ and for the good old holy church.â€? I chuckle every time. Another friend is quiet during the Mass, except that he speaks and moves about when we sing. Another individual became one of my first friends at McGuire because she has a sincere smile and voices an occasional, sweet “Hi.â€? McGuire Memorial is important to our community. The staff provides creative activities and gentle care to an extraordinary group of people. And yet, there is currently a legal practice in American society that undermines the lives of people with disabilities. A quick scan of the Internet will reveal statistics as high as 90 percent of women choosing abortion after receiving a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. (Related studies indicate that, as recently as 2012, 72 percent of pregnant women chose to undergo prenatal testing.) American society increasingly accepts or ignores the termination of these lives. I find this information horrifying. From a young age, my natural instinct has been that every preborn person has value, dignity and a right to life. My natural instinct agrees with the Catholic Church, which states: “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to lifeâ€? (“Catechism of the Catholic Church,â€? 2270). So as I sat in Mass Monday morning with my friends at McGuire Memorial, my mind wandered a bit. I thought that eventually

2016 Disability Awareness

and I will join with others to vote in every election for pro-life candidates. Capuchin Father Angelus Shaughnessy aptly wrote in a spring 2016 newsletter for the Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers: “I could never, ever in good conscience bring myself to vote for anybody who would choose to legalize the killing of the preborn. I would rather be struck dead with lightning! ... If I cannot trust a candidate with human life, the most precious thing in this world, what could I trust him or her with?� I agree.

we may not need places like McGuire. All of the efforts of the administrators, nurses and staff who make McGuire Memorial such a wonderful place will be less and less necessary. Abortion has already eliminated a large number of people who were undesired. When will it stop?

From a young age, my natural instinct has been that every preborn person has value, dignity and a right to life.

 Dacanay is parish advocate for people with disabilities at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Beaver.

Personally, I will not accept this state of affairs. I will pray; I will speak; I will march;


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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 25

Catholic school grad shines in swim for gold By PAUL MCMULLEN Catholic News Service BALTIMORE — Paralympian Rebecca Meyers is majoring in history in college. She made some Sept. 8 at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. A parishioner of St. Joseph Church in Cockeysville, Maryland, and 2013 graduate of Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, Meyers earned her first gold medal in the Paralympics with a world record in the S13 100 butterfly. Meyers was still a Notre Dame student in 2012, when she earned silver and bronze medals at the London Paralympics. “It feels so amazing,” Meyers told the media after her win. “I am so excited to win the first gold medal for U.S. Paralympics Swimming, and we are going to kill it for the rest of the week. I can’t wait to see what everyone else does.” Meyers, who lowered the world record in the event to 1:03.25, was just getting started herself in Rio, as she holds the world record in seven other events, including the 200 and 400 freestyles, and both individual medleys. Reaching the pinnacle of her sport did not come easy for Meyers, who was born deaf but found advocates at both St. Joseph School and Notre Dame who helped navigate her way through her Usher syndrome and use of cochlear ear implants. “I am grateful for my Catholic education,” Meyers told the Catholic Review, the Baltimore archdiocesan magazine in midAugust during an email interview. “All the teachers taught me to advocate for myself, and that has helped me be successful. “In an all-girls’ environment, we were taught how to be strong, how to lead, and how to be independent. I take all of those qualities, in and out of the pool, wherever I go. NDP embraced my disabilities and taught me how to shine.”

26 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine


U.S. swimmer Rebecca Meyers waves during the medal ceremony at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Sept. 8. A parishioner of St. Joseph Church in Cockeysville, Md., and 2013 graduate of Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, Meyers earned her first gold medal in the Paralympics with a world record in the S13 100 butterfly. Meyers is taking a sabbatical from her studies at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She transferred there after a stop at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. While its swim program had five Paralympians in Rio, its campus was not the right fit for Meyers. “During my first year away at college, I had a very difficult time,” Meyers said. “I was alone for the first time and had to really face my disabilities. That was a struggle and I had to look inside myself and realize that I am not the average college student, so I might have to do things a little differently. “When I landed at F&M, I found I was more secure in who I was and could really thrive there. I had to trust that God had a plan for me

and even though it was a huge struggle, I did come through with a better understanding of myself in the world.” When she is not away at college, Meyers trains under coach Erik Posegay at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, the same club that produced Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever. Still just 21 years old, Meyers anticipates competing at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. “What I really want to do in the future,” she said, “is be an advocate and role model to those with a disability.”

McMullen is managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Disability Awareness 2016

2016 Disability Awareness

Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 27

McGuire Memorial

Helping children and adults with disabilities

lives to the fullest for more than 50 years.


28 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine

Disability Awareness 2016

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