AUGUST 25, 2011 Volume LXXXV • Number 40 www.evangelist.org
Guide to Mass Changes
A college student spends a year in Haiti — and inspires local children in the process: Page 20
Cut out this handy guide to new responses at Mass coming up when changes are implemented in November: Page 3
T H E O F F I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E D I O C E S E O F A L B A N Y A DECADE LATER
SHARING WITH GRANDPA
THE COST OF 9/11 BY PATRICIA ZAPOR
C AT H O L I C N E WS S E RV I C E
AL ABERICO SHARES a cookie offered by granddaughter Addy during a sweet moment at a parish picnic for St. Joseph’s in Fort Edward and St. Mary’s/St. Paul’s in Hudson Falls. For more photos, see page 11. (Nate Whitchurch photo)
Washington — Quantifying the costs of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States is like trying to get your hands around the ocean. Some costs can be tangibly measured in human lives lost, number of injuries, dollars spent and jobs changed or lost. They can be tallied in numbers of people who have fled their homes for safer lands or the amount of government funding diverted to or away from certain programs. Then there are the intangibles: human rights in the U.S. and abroad that were weakened or ignored in the interest of security; the moral standing of a nation diminished by the acts of waging preventative war or engaging in torture; the loss of people’s sense of well-being and
peace; the suspicion with which some people now view Muslims or Arabs. Even facts one might expect to be easy to measure — how many people have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance — are difficult to nail down. A website called http://icasualties.org keeps fairly up-to-date figures of U.S. and coalition deaths for the two wars, including government contractors. As of mid-August, it had a count of 4,792 U.S. and coalition military deaths in Iraq and 2,672 in Afghanistan. But, as pointed out in a comprehensive report, “Costs of War,” published by Brown University’s Watson Institute for THE COST OF 9/11, SEE PAGE 8
Opening doors, aisles and altars to Catholics with disabilities BY ANGELA CAVE
STA F F W R I T E R
When Sacred Heart parish in Lake George began renovating its worship space two summers ago, architects made it a priority that the new space accommodate Catholics with physical disabilities. Previously, users of wheelchairs, walkers or canes sat in the overflow area of the old church — a 137-year-old structure that, despite its beauty, had narrow doorways and aisles. Today, half a dozen “pew cuts” in the new church — sections removed from pews — accommodate wheelchairs. A ramp
behind the altar wall and a low, wide ambo (pulpit) make access to the altar possible for all volunteers and staff. Bathrooms feature handicapped-accessible stalls and sinks. Mass-goers with hearing loss can grab one of six hearing devices that connect to the church’s PA system and adjust the volume of the Mass to their comfort level. It has made a difference in the parish community, which welcomes more than 1,200 tourists to Masses in the summer. “There are people who are coming here now because of the accessibility,” said Rev. Thomas
Berardi, pastor. The Albany diocesan Architecture and Building Commission requires that church renovations or new church construction comply with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 — paying particular attention to altar ramps because of aging priests. “We are proactive in making sure that all the churches actually comply — not so much because of the law, which has raised our consciousness, but because of the Gospel,” said Rev. Richard Vosko, a Sunday presider at St. Vincent de Paul parish in Albany and a noted
liturgical designer since 1970. However, religious organizations with fewer than 15 employees (about 98 percent of U.S. congregations in 2006, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives) are exempt from parts of the ADA, and all religious organizations are exempt from the requirement that new construction and renovations be accessible to persons with disabilities. “When people from other countries come here and see the poor state of our religious build-
(ANGELA CAVE PHOTO) ings, they say, ‘It’s not like that in Spain; it’s not like that in Italy,’” Father Vosko remarked. Law or no law, he added, Catholic communities have a OPENING DOORS, AISLES AND ALTARS, SEE PAGE 13
T H E E VA N G E L I S T
August 25, 2011
Opening doors, aisles and altars OPENING DOORS, AISLES AND ALTARS, FROM PAGE 1
special responsibility to people in the pews who need extra help: “It’s a question of justice from our Catholic perspective.” Though many diocesan parishes have become compliant after renovations, some find cost or the structure of their current buildings hard to handle. Father Vosko said that many churches are still not barrier-free to persons with disabilities. He called for increased attention to lighting, acoustics and even the materials used in worship spaces, since Mass-goers can trip on a high-pile carpet or a slippery tile floor. Also on Father Vosko’s wishlist are Braille lettering on hymnals, elevators and toilets; cabinets and choir rehearsal racks placed at heights accessible to everyone; and adjustable-height pulpits. Congregants using mobility aids shouldn’t have to sit in the back or side of a church, he said. A mother shouldn’t have to enter through a church’s side door on her daughter’s wedding day. But heeding all of these suggestions can get “very complicated and it can get very expensive,” Father Vosko said.
Old, new again
The renovations to Sacred Heart Church cost a total of $1.55 million. Accessibility fea-
tures had been worked into the budget. “I think it costs more if you’re fixing an existing building that doesn’t have” accessible features, Father Berardi noted. The altar ramp at Sacred Heart was built at the same time as the new altar; the PA system cost under $1,000. The church also has about 100 moveable seats and 50 chairs with arms, which are popular among senior citizens. After St. Michael the Archangel Church in Troy burned down in the late 1970s, the community moved and built a new sanctuary. Accessibility was a priority at the time, even before legislation was introduced, said Sister Katherine Arseneau, CSJ, parish life director. The Troy church and all later additions to it have been built on one level. An altar ramp especially came in handy last year while the sacramental minister recovered from hip replacement surgery, Sister Kate told The Evangelist. St. Joseph’s Church in Scotia, which will turn 100 in 2021, was renovated in 1993 and now includes ramps into the church, behind the altar and over to meeting spaces, said Rev. Peter Russo, pastor. The “children’s chapel” and parish hall also have ramps. In Mohawk, the entrance and sanctuary area of the Church of
the Blessed Sacrament were built on one level. The downstairs social hall provides ramp access.
Only so much
The bathrooms are not accessible. “I’d love to be able to put a bathroom in, but there’s just no way we could do it,” lamented Sister Mary Jo Tallman, CSJ, parish life director. “You’d have to blow out a stone wall. We don’t have the money to do that.” St. Cecilia’s Church in Fonda offers a chair lift inside the front entrance and a ramp up the side of the building, but people with disabilities can’t manage without a helper. “It is a difficulty,” said Rev. Patrick Gallagher, OFM Conv., pastor. “I’m not quite sure what we could do without really radical [changes]. We’ve given it some thought now and then.” He said construction or elevator installation would be too much work for too few beneficiaries: Aging baby boomers are a minority at St. Cecilia’s. If a person with physical limitations wanted to lector, Father Gallagher said, the church could get a wireless microphone or navigate the connecting step he calls a “bridge” behind the altar. If the pastor, who’s 71, became less mobile, a stair lift could be installed in the rectory.
Similarly, St. Vincent’s in Albany provides microphones to wheelchair users, said Rev. Leo O’Brien, retired pastor and sacramental minister there. Father O’Brien has used a walker for three years and a cane before that. He enters the church through an elevator, but needs assistance onto the altar.
Compliments to Church
Still, he said, “Catholic churches do a lot. I think we’re all doing quite well.” Edward Matysiak, a eucharistic minister and usher at Christ the King parish in Westmere, Albany, has used a wheelchair for 25 years and said he has no problems at churches he visits to speak about faith formation. Sometimes, said parish and diocesan staff, it comes down to being resourceful — both for people with disabilities and for the people ministering to them. “It’s a matter of opening your mind, looking at the individual,”
TOP, THE PARISH OFFICE entrance at St. Vincent’s parish in Albany; above, a ramp into the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. (Angela Cave photos) said Rosemarie Tobin, diocesan catechetical consultant for people with developmental disabilities and special needs. “Be creative. I think always more can be done to make things accessible.”
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ACCESSIBILITY Volume LXXXV • Number 40 www.evangelist.org AL ABERICO SHARESa cookie offered by granddaughter Addy during a sweet moment at a...