The theme this year is Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.
Dear Friends in Christ,
The theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to “leave no one behind”.
It is critical to ensure, in this regard, the full and equal participation of persons with disability in all spheres of society and includes active participation in our Church and parish communities to create enabling environments by, for and with persons with disability. This includes ensuring an environment that promotes leadership opportunities for people with disability.
There are many great examples of people with disability in leadership roles within our Church, in national, diocesan and parish settings. The Australian Catholic Youth Festival to be held in Perth in December 2019, will be showcasing a workshop and prayer experience facilitated by young people with disability – an opportunity for young people with disability to showcase their leadership skills among their peers. However, more needs to be done.
I invite you to consider encouraging and inviting people with disability to a leadership opportunity in your local setting. You may like to consider offering leadership courses for people with disability to lead the next stage in the Plenary Council discussions in your parish or diocese, or a leadership role in your Parish Pastoral Council. Parishes are communities with great potential to receive and nurture the giftedness of people with disability and can be a springboard for people with disability to embark on leadership roles.
I invite you to consider using the materials and resources available at catholic.org.au/disability to promote, empower and recognise the gifts of people with disability and to celebrate International Day of People with Disability, which is observed on the third day of December each year. It is appropriate that we observe and celebrate the International Day of People with Disability as we prepare during the Advent season for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Thank you again for your support in this most important endeavour.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Bishop Donald Sproxton,
Bishops’ Delegate for Disability Issues
Bishops Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference