The Congregation of Holy Cross’s District of Chile-Peru in conjunction with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) organized a discussion on "Faith, Disability and Inclusion" on December 2, the eve of World Disability Day on December 3.
“The idea of organizing the conversation on 'Faith, Disability and Inclusion’ arose from the meetings by Zoom that we had held with our special catechesis programs in our Holy Cross parishes in Chile, Peru, and Mexico,” explained Father Daniel Panchot, Pastor of San Roque Parish and member of the event's organizing team. "In San Roque we already had a relationship with the PUC, due to our participation in the 'Common Project', so the idea arose of teaming up with the Faculties of Theology and Education, as well as the Campus Ministry of the University, to relate the academic with the practical and the pastoral care of the Church.”
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“Moving towards inclusion is everyone's task. And to do it efficiently you have to include the physical, health, emotional, and cognitive aspects and also the strengthening of the spiritual dimension, of faith. This will help us create spaces that aim to achieve the well-being of people with disabilities,” added Professor Cristián Núñez from the UC Faculty of Theology, another member of the organizing team, in an interview with El Mostrador. He and Professor Ana Gutiérrez from the UC School of Education teach a course on "Spirituality, disability, and inclusion" at PUC.
Almost 70 people from various Latin American countries participated in the conversation, which was broadcast on YouTube. Together with representatives of the University, Fr. José Ahumada, C.S.C., Superior of the District of Chile-Perú, helped to welcome the participants. He emphasized the importance that Holy Cross in Peru and Chile has placed on the accompaniment and inclusion of people with disabilities and their families, both in the Congregation’s schools and social works, as well as its parishes.
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Of the presentations, there were two expositors from parishes of the Congregation. First was Mrs. Rossy Roque from Nuestra Santísima Madre de la Luz Parish in Guadalupe, Nuevo León, Mexico, who is a catechist for children with disabilities and mother of twin girls with DOWN Syndrome. The other was Mrs. Rosa (Charo) Labbé, from San Roque Parish in Chile. Charo, in addition to serving in the catechetical team for people with disabilities in the parish, is the Special Catechesis Coordinator in the Eastern Zone of Santiago, a member of the National Catechetical Commission and serves as a liaison with the Department of 'Laity, Family and Life' of the Vatican.
Both the Congregation and its apostolates, as well as the Faculties of Theology and Education, and the University Campus Ministry evaluated this first conversation as a great success. It got the academic world and the pastoral world to talk with each other, illuminating new paths both for the pastoral work of the Church and the academic research of the university. Ultimately, this translates into better inclusion of people with disabilities and their families, both in the church and in society.
Now, as Fr. Daniel says: “With the success of this first meeting, the challenge now is to see how we can proceed in the future. What does the Lord ask of Santa Cruz?" It is a question that the Congregation, together with the PUC and other collaborators, will continue trying to answer.