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Diocese Offers Special Needs Workshop for Catechists

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On Monday May 21, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the St. Michael Archangel Gallery Center, next door to St. Michael the Archangel Church in Cary, Dr. Madonna Wojtaszek-Healy will give a workshop for catechists instructing children with special needs.

Dr. Wojtaszek-Healy holds a doctorate in educational psychology and has taught at the college level and also in Catholic elementary school. Her own children have A.D.H.D. and Asperger’s Syndrome, and she has become an advocate for children with these conditions and their families.

As any teacher can attest, not all children learn in the same way or at the same rate. That’s certainly true for faith formation. With that in mind, the Diocese of Raleigh formed a committee to find ways of reaching out to God’s children who have special needs for faith formation. The Special Needs Catechesis Ministry is coordinated by Mary DiSano, under the direction of Sister Rose Marie Adams, IHM, through the Diocesan Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation. Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools Mrs. Rosalie Innacelli is also a member of the committee, which is gathering information and resources to assist parish Directors of Religious Education in teaching special needs children.

“The goal of the Diocesan Special Needs Committee,” according to Mary DiSano, “is to increase awareness that will encourage families to come forward with their special needs children who desire faith formation, and to equip parish leaders with the tools they need to provide faith formation and sacramental preparation for these children.”

Mrs. DiSano noted that “special needs” covers a wide spectrum of learning difficulties, from mild Attention Deficit Disorder or mild autism to severe learning disabilities requiring very specialized instruction. “While we can’t as yet address all these needs,” she said, “we want to give parishes the resources to help as many children as possible, and also to raise awareness among those with special-needs children, as well as the rest of those in the parish, that this perhaps distracting youngster is a child of God who is a member of our Church. We want him or her to understand the teachings of our faith as far as their abilities permit, and for them to have access to the sacraments.”

Registration deadline for the May 21st workshop is May 15th.  Those interested can reserve space by email at register@raldioc.org, or contact Mary DiSano (919) 821-9710 for more information.