Archdiocese of New Orleans: Commission for Persons with Disabilities, By-Laws

The Commission for Persons with Disabilities

Archdiocese of New Orleans


Introduction and Rationale:

In their 1978 Pastoral Statement on Disabled People (revised in 1989), the U.S. Bishops recognize the unique gifts of persons with disabilities and call for their fuller integration into the Christian Community, particularly at the parish level. To support parish efforts toward this integration, the bishops recommend the establishment of a diocesan Commission for Persons with Disabilities. This diocesan Commission will serve a consultative body to the Archbishop and pastors regarding persons with disabilities. 

In the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Family Life Apostolate will provide the appropriate impetus and resources to assist the formation and continuance of this Commission whenever possible. Family Life Apostolate will work closely with other offices recommended by the Archbishop.

I.     Name:

The name of this body shall be the Archdiocesan Commission for Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter referred to as the Commission).

II.   Purpose:

       A.The purpose of this Commission is to raise awareness of the need for full integration of persons with disabilities into the life of the faith community and to offer practical assistance towards that end. The Commission will encourage pastoral staffs throughout the Archdiocese to foster active participation of disabled individuals in all aspects of Archdiocesan and parochial life. For this participation, the Commission will place special focus on the areas of family life, education, religious education, and worship.

       B.In order to fulfill this purpose the Commission shall: determine goals and objectives, establish priorities, and initiate actions which will accomplish the end goal of full integration of persons with disabilities into the faith community.


III.  Membership:

       A.The Commission consists of 15 to 18 voting members appointed by the                    Archbishop.

       B.The Commission shall include a broad representation from throughout the Archdiocese.

       C.The Commission shall also include one representative each from Family Life Apostolate, Parish Social Ministry, Office of Religious Education, Office of Catholic Schools, Building Office, and Office of Worship. Each of these is an ex-officio member of the Commission and is considered a voting member, but is not counted toward quorum.

       D.   Commission members will be appointed by the Archbishop.

              1.For a person to be considered for membership on the Commission, s/he must:

                     a.    Be an active, practicing Catholic.

                     b.    Have a written recommendation from his/her pastor.

                     c.    Demonstrate interest in persons with disabilities.

                     d.Make a commitment to attend meetings and participate in achieving goals and objectives of the Commission for Persons with Disabilities.

              2.Members will propose candidates in the September meeting who will be contacted by the membership committee.

                     a.If interested, the person will receive an application form from the Family Life Apostolate.

                     b.When the applicant completes the form and returns it to Family Life, that office will request a letter of endorsement from the person's pastor.

              3.The completed application forms and letters of endorsement from the applicants' pastors will be sent to the Archbishop for his decision to appoint (or not appoint) the applicants. Letters of appointment to the Commission are sent by the Archbishop.

       E.Newly appointed members will all begin serving their terms in January. At their first meeting, new members will be oriented to the purpose, bylaws, accomplishments, and goals of the Commission.

       F.    Terms of Members:

              1.The term of membership is two years, which officially begins at the January meeting. Each member can serve up to three (3) terms, or six (6) years.

              2.Therefore, in September each member must be asked specifically if s/he wishes to continue for another two (2) year term.

              3.A Commission member may resign at any time by notifying the                          Chairperson of the Commission.

              4.A Commission member who has missed fifty percent (50%) of meetings in a Commission year is considered automatically dropped from the Commission. If the member when approached by the Chairperson gives adequate reasons for having missed the meetings, clearly wishes to serve on the Commission, and is able to foresee a more faithful attendance at meetings, the chairperson in consultation with the Commission may continue the member's appointment.

       G.   Responsibilities of members are to:

              1.    Attend Commission meetings.

              2.    Carry out goals and objectives of the Commission.

              3.    Serve on working committees as needed.


IV.  Officers and Elections:

       A.Nominations for officers shall be made in November and elections will be held at the December meeting.

       B.Officers are elected to serve a one-year term and may be re-elected for successive terms.

       C.The Chairperson shall preside at all regular and special meetings of the Commission; shall act in consultation with the Commission to appoint all committees unless otherwise specified by the Commission; shall determine, with the Family Life Apostolate Director, the agenda for all regular and special meetings; shall serve as the primary public relations person for the Commission; and shall perform all of the usual duties of a Chairperson.

       D.A Vice Chairperson shall assume the office of Chairperson should that office become vacant prior to the completion of the Chairperson's term of office, and any other duties assigned by the Chairperson.

       E.The recording secretary shall handle the minutes and maintain all historical and official records of the Commission.

       F.A corresponding secretary shall handle all regular correspondence to and from the Commission.


V.   Meetings:

       A.The Commission shall meet regularly on the first Tuesday of the month, unless special circumstances require a change.

       B.Special meetings of the Commission may be called with the knowledge of the Family Life Apostolate by the Chairperson or by a majority of the voting members.

       C.A majority of the Commission members must be present before decisions can be made.

       D.The Commission may determine its own rules of procedure, but in the absence of such rules, Robert's Rules of Order shall apply.

       E.    The ordinary order of business shall be:

              1.    Call to order

              2.    Prayer

              3.    Approval of minutes

              4.    Chairperson's report

              5.    FLA Director's Report

              6.    Committee Reports

              7.    Old Business/Decision making items

              8.    New Business

The ordinary order of business may be changed, altered, or modified at any meeting by a consensus or majority decision of the members present at the meeting.

       F.All meetings of the Commission are open unless designated otherwise. The right of non-members to address the Commission, however, shall be reserved to those who have petitioned the Chairperson prior to the meeting, and who have been approved for inclusion on the agenda in


advance of the Commission meeting. The speaking time for such persons shall be determined by the Chairperson.


VI.  Committees:

       A.Standing committees presently include Membership, Family Life, Christian Formation, and Worship.

       B.The Commission may provide for ad hoc committees as it deems advisable to further the work of the Commission.

       C.Each committee shall perform such duties as may be assigned to it by the Commission and shall be appointed and vacancies filled in the manner determined by the Commission. In the absence of other direction, the Chairperson shall appoint committee members.

       D.Membership on any committee need not be limited to members of the          Commission.

       E.The responsibility of all committees shall be fact finding and advisory. Recommendations by any committee shall be subject to the approval of the Commission.


VII.       Amendments:

A proposed amendment is to be sent to membership prior to the meeting at which the amendment will be considered. A simple majority vote in favor of the amendment is all that is necessary to incorporate the amendment. The wording of the amendment may also be changed by majority vote prior to the adoption vote. The approved amendment will then be sent to the Archbishop for his acceptance or revision.


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