1837: Two Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet emigrate from Lyons, France to join six other sisters to open a school in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and welcome four deaf students to study with hearing peers.
1853: St. Mary’s School for the Deaf opened in Buffalo, NY.
1900's: Religious communities and (arch)dioceses establish residential facilities and schools for children and adults with disabilities.
1900: Xavier Society for the Blind begins its service to Catholics with vision loss.
1936-1957: Catholic Guilds for the Blind founded in eleven dioceses.
1947: CUSA founded by Laure Brunner (Originally known as The Catholic Union of Sick Associates; later changed to The Catholic Union of the Sick in America, and in 1997 changed to CUSA - An Apostolate of Persons with Chronic Illness and Disability).
1949: International Catholic Deaf Association (ICDA) begun by deaf adults.
1950: Msgr. Elmer Behrmann establishes the Department of Special Education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
1954: The American Federation of Catholic Workers for the Blind and Visually Handicapped founded.
1964: Victorious Missionaries founded at Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL by Fr. John Maronic, O.M.I, whose Cause for Canonization was initiated in 2004.
1964: L’Arche began by Jean Vanier who welcomed two men with intellectual disabilities into his home in Trosly-Breuil, France; it has grown to include homes in 40 countries on six continents.
1966: SPRED (Special Religious Education) founded in Chicago by Fr. James McCarthy and Sr. Mary Therese Harrington.
1968: National Apostolate for the Mentally Retarded (NAMR) founded by parents and pastoral workers (Name changes: National Apostolate for Mentally Retarded Persons – NAMRP; National Apostolate with Persons with Mental Retardation – NAPMR; National Apostolate for Inclusion Ministry – NAfIM).
1969: Cardinal Stritch College (now University) offers a Masters degree program in Special Religious Education, and educates many of the future leaders of disability ministry; Journey with Jesus curriculum developed by Sr. Sheila Haskett and Sr. Coletta Dunn becomes a national teaching tool.
1970's: Catholic Charities offices establish group homes in response to deinstitutionalization.
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).
1971: National Catholic Office for the Deaf founded and directed by Fr. David Walsh, CSsR.
1974: Handicapped Encounter Christ (HEC) retreat program established by John Keck.
1975: U.S. Catholic Bishops National Advisory Committee on Ministry with Handicapped People established; includes pastoral leaders from throughout the United States.
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."
1979: Faith and Fellowship founded to provide Faith experiences in a way suited to the needs of persons with a mental illness.
1982: National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) founded (in 2002, name changed to National Catholic Partnership on Disability); Sr. Rita Baum, S.S.J. is the first executive director from 1982 - 1991; Mary Jane Owen served from 1991 – 2004; Janice Benton served from 2004 – 2019 and Charleen Katra served from 2019-present.
1984: Catholic Association of Persons with Visual Impairment (CAPVI) founded under the leadership of Msgr. Paul Lackner to promote the delivery of services to Catholics who are blind or visually impaired; joined with NCPD in 2002 and produced the Roman Missal and lectionary in three sizes of large print.
1985: NCPD publishes 1st edition of Opening Doors, Volumes I and II.
1990: Mattie J.T. Stepanek born; best-selling author who touched many lives with his five books of poetry and one book of essays before his death in 2004; Cause of Canonization initiated on 9-21-12; posthumously awarded the NCPD Youth/Young Adult Leader Award in November 2013.
1991: Seasons of Grace (adapted sacramental preparation materials) developed by Brigid O’Donnell and published by Our Sunday Visitor.
1992: Vatican hosts an international conference on disability; NCPD Executive Director, Mary Jane Owen, featured speaker.
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.
1996: Two major curricula resources are published through funding from the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation: The Rose Kennedy Curriculum developed by the Diocese of Pittsburgh and distributed by RCL Benziger (3,000 people in 80 dioceses were trained by Grace Harding on the use of this curriculum, and it was translated into Spanish under the guidance of Mary Brosseau of the Diocese of Orange); and series of four publications on Sacramental Preparation: Individualizing Lesson Plans was developed by Marilyn Bishop and Mary Pat Carter and distributed through the University of Dayton.
1998: Welcome and Justice: A Framework of Access and Inclusion approved by U.S. Bishops.
2000: Vatican-proclaimed Jubilee Day for Persons with Disabilities celebrated throughout the world on December 3.
2005: University of Dayton Institute for Pastoral Initiatives launches online course on ministry with people with disabilities.