A religious service geared toward children with special needs will now be a regular feature at St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in West Chandler.
Eight special-needs children are currently participating in a religious education program at the parish. Four more are attending the regular program offered at St. Andrew’s but receive specialized attention. The parish has hired Kim Doyle as the coordinator of the special needs program.
“Our next step, however, is ultimately to offer a regular sensory-friendly Mass for these families with children and/or adults with disabilities,” said Rev. Robert Aliunzi, pastor of St. Andrew’s. The first such Mass takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday, November 3. The service will feature low lighting, softer music, an American Sign Language interpreter, children’s scripture readings and a shorter homily.
Families are welcome to bring items with them that will make it easier for their member to join the community, such as sound cancelling headphones, wiggle cushions, fidgets, and/or a favorite toy for soothing.
“We acknowledge that families with children or adults with disabilities may often feel uncomfortable coming to Mass due to the special situation of their children,” Aliunzi said. “With that in mind, we strive to offer a conducive and understanding environment that welcomes all of them.”