NCPD History


For a pdf of a disability ministry timeline dating back to 1837, click here.


  • 1971-1975 Raising awareness:Meetings between the United States Catholic Conference and Catholic disability leaders and pastoral workers led to the 1975 formation of the U.S. Catholic Bishops National Advisory Committee on Ministry with Handicapped People (NCPD's precursor).

  • 1978 Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities, passed unanimously by the U.S. bishops, says Catholics with disabilities must be able to participate fully in the celebrations and obligations of their faith, and should be included "within the total fabric of society."

  • 1982 The National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) is established, with the 1978 Pastoral Statement as its mandate and Sister Rita Baum, S.S.J. as Executive Director.
    Founding Board Members posed for a group picture

  • 1985 NCPD publishes the two-volume resource manual Opening Doors to People with Disabilities, with extensive guidance for promoting inclusion at the parish and diocesan level. An expanded and revised edition is published 1997.

  • 1991 Mary Jane Owen, TOP, is selected as NCPD's second Executive Director.

  • 1992 Ms. Owen presents The Wisdom of Human Vulnerability--Disability: The Tie Which Binds to the Seventh International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care to Health Care Workers in Vatican City.

  • 1995 Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities is approved by the U.S. bishops to provide pastoral guidance on sacramental access for people with disabilities. A Loving Justice: The Moral and Legal Responsibilities of the U.S. Catholic Church under the Americans with Disabilities Act is published by NCPD.

  • 1998 Welcome & Justice: A Framework of Access and Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities is approved by the bishops on the 20th anniversary of the original Pastoral Statement.

  • 1998-2000: Regional training sessions are held by NCPD staff throughout the country.

  • Dec. 3rd 2000: NCPD celebrates the Jubilee Year for Disabled Persons by distributing an Opening Doors resource packet, Jubilee Days, available in both English and Spanish.

  • 2002 NCPD changes its name from "National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities" to "National Catholic Partnership on Disability" to stress its mission of partnering with the offices of the USCCB and other national Catholic organizations as well as secular organizations. NCPD also hosts the first Summer Institute in Albuquerque, NM.

  • 2003: Opening Doors of Welcome and Justice to Parishoners with Disabilities: A Parish Resource Guide becomes available on the 25th anniversary of the first Pastoral Statement.

  • 2004: Janice Benton is appointed NCPD's third Executive Director.

  • 2005 NCPD hosts a Summer Institute in New Orleans.

  • 2006 NCPD launches a Council on Mental Illness.

  • 2007 NCPD hosts its first Webinar.

  • 2008 NCPD hosts a series of four webinars on catechesis, mental illness, and the 30th anniversary of the Pastoral Statement.