Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


 Starting up a Disability Ministry  




Do you know the number of Catholic high schools providing services for students with disabilities?

We received your question on the NCPD website about the numbers of Catholic high schools providing services for students with disabilities.  Many Catholic High Schools are serving students with disabilities, that we know for sure.  Please check out our webinar Access in Catholic Education for Students with Disabilities, Part II: High Schools which was produced on Feb. 16, 2010.  The link is on our website at  Click the “webinars” drop-down button and click on that webinar to go to a page that includes a replay link and many other resources which discuss or address that topic.  Scroll down to Resources when you reach the page to view and/or download what you find there.  Contact information for the 3 presenters is available, as well.  One of them, Marie Powell, is Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Education and a long-time supporter of including students in Catholic education.  You could contact any of them if you like, but they do speak eloquently on the webinar about their experiences.

The numbers, specifically as you ask for them, may not be available.  It is a developing and rapidly changing field.  Marie collects information for the Bishops on a regular basis for Catholic education in general but even she would be hard pressed to state specific numbers.  Take a look at the webinar and the resources to get a better idea of what is currently available.



What information do you have for a parish support group? (3/2011)

Welcome.  We are happy that you contacted NCPD.  And thank you for your ministry with people having disabilities and their families.

You will find our website to be a tremendous resource.  If you like, I will give you a telephone call and guide you through its wealth.  I have been a DRE myself and used NCPD as a resource at the parish, then at the diocesan and Catholic school levels in my work.

I encourage you to sign up for the NCPD E-News, our free monthly electronic newsletter that includes all kinds of updates and ideas on the full range of disability ministry.  You can find archived copies if you scroll down the right column of our home page at, and click on its link.

One of the best sources of inservice for yourself, catechists and others, including parents, are the 12 webinars we have produced on a variety of disability ministry topics.  There are two webinars which directly address catechetics for students with disability in parish programs and 2 that are more specific to full-day Catholic school programs.  We will be doing a new one this year which is the first in a series covering sacramental preparation for all our Sacraments.  This one is on first Eucharist and Reconciliation preparation for students with disabilities.  If you go to the buttons at the top of our home page and click on the drop down box for webinars, you will find links to pages for all 12 of the webinars we have produced.  Most are still available for re-play and all have what we refer to as ministry toolkits, resources provided by presenters and NCPD staff for use by leaders such as yourself, to support your ministry on these topics.  The webinars and their resources are also available in DVD/CD kits, for purchase on our website.

If you click the button along the top of the page for Ministry/Specific, a drop-down list of links will appear which will take you to resources specific to the disability named.  Most of our resources are available free of charge for download and use.  We encourage you to duplicate them.  If you do use our materials, we appreciate your giving credit for the source.

Another critical set of resources to ministry are found as a quick link in the right hand column of our home page at  Scroll down to Bishops’ Statements.  These provide a modern foundation for disability ministries, as well as practical resources for DRE’s such as are found in the Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities (1995).

At the top of that right hand column is a large button to Diocesan Directors of Disability Ministry or Diocesan Contacts for Disability Ministry in most dioceses of the United States.  If you do not know yours, yet, and as important, if they don’t know you yet, make sure to be in touch with them.  They can be a wonderful resource that is critical to your ministry.





Starting Up a Disability Ministry

Here are some good, down-loadable “start-up” considerations for a parish disability ministry.  

· Go to and hover over the Ministries/Programs dropdown button. Hover over Ministry Models, click Parish Ministry Models. A long article is found there. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you will be able to print it off in either a Word or PDF version.


· Click the back arrow to return to the NCPD home page. Hover over Ministries/Programs dropdown button. Hover over Ministry Models, click on Universal Design Ministry. Again, a long article is found there that can be printed off in either Word or PDF by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking the button you prefer.


· Click the arrow to return to the NCPD home page. Hover over Ministries/Programs dropdown button. Hover over Spirituality, click on Prayers and Homilies. Examples provided there can be printed off by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking your preferred format: Word or PDF.


· Click the arrow to return to the NCPD home page. Go to and hover over the Ministries/Programs dropdown button. Click Spirituality to find the NCPD Board Statement on Spiritual Development and Participation of Persons with Disabilities, which can be printed off by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking Word or PDF.


· Click the arrow to return to the NCPD home page. Hover over Ministries/Programs and click both links to Attitudes and Evolving Definition. There are several articles under Attitudes and one under Evolving Definition. All can be printed by scrolling to the bottom of the page of each article and clicking the button to open the file and print it.




Please note that when you open any of these files that I have told you about you can also save them to your hard drive or to a thumb drive for your convenience, if you like. You also can reprint them without seeking additional permission from us. Please do credit NCPD for the articles, however.



Quick Links

Go back to the website home page. Go to the green column on the right side to check out Quick Links. There are many valuable and useful links.


· Autism Resources are featured since April is Autism Awareness Month


· Ministry Toolkits include resources (downloadable and free) on a variety of topics covered in our 16 webinars for disability ministry. The webinars are available for purchase as a DVD/CD kit that groups (usually 3) webinars together by overall topic.


· Roman Missal resources includes ordering information for the large print Roman Missal 3rd Edition and Lectionary in fonts 24, 34 & 44 for visually impaired priests and deacons.


· In the Diocesan Contacts button you will find that Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Cleveland has Disability Services and Disability Ministries lead by Dennis McNulty and Fr. Joe McNulty (yes, they are actually brothers!). The website you want to check for diocesan resources and to contact Dennis or Fr. Joe is They have a free monthly electronic newsletter that you will want to register to receive.




Some of the most important resources that you and your parish team will want to become familiar with are found by going to our website at and hovering over Views/News/Policy, scroll down to Policy, and over to Church Related. There you will find Vatican Statements, USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) Statements, NCPD, and National Catholic Bioethics Center.

The statements from the USCCB are:



You can read and print them off for your own use, and be able to adjust the print size for those who need larger print without needing to get further permission. To get permission to reproduce them in a large quantity (for a large meeting or inservice or for the parish) you need to get permission from the USCCB. Do not be discouraged by the 1978 date on the Pastoral Statement…. It is as amazing today as the day it was promulgated and released. Welcome and Justice… is a 10 point summary of the Pastoral Statement that was written on its 20th anniversary. The Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments… takes each sacrament and reviews how to handle special needs that may present themselves when someone with different types of disabilities are approaching that sacrament. It will be updated in the next year or so, I believe, to include new issues that have come up since 1995, but is very helpful and necessary for a parish to know about as people with disabilities come to them for the Sacraments. We now have all of the documents in Spanish and they will be available on our new website that is being developed.