CNA Staff, Nov 14, 2020 / 08:00 am
As book titles go, the “Directory for Catechesis” is hardly the catchiest. But this volume could potentially transform the lives of thousands of people.
That is the conviction of Gail Williams, center manager at Caritas St. Joseph in Hendon, north London. When the updated directory -- formerly known as the General Directory for Catechesis -- was released in June, she was struck by what it said about people with disabilities.
“People with disabilities are called to the fullness of sacramental life, even in the presence of serious disturbances,” the directory said. “The sacraments are gifts of God and the liturgy, even before being rationally understood, asks to be lived: therefore, no one can deny the sacraments to people with disabilities.”
“It means so much for it actually to be printed in there,” Williams told CNA, “because the General Directory for Catechesis is the go-to for anybody that’s not really doing this work. And they’ll often say: ‘Well, is it in the General Directory for Catechesis?’”
“To be able to say ‘Yes, it is’ is just amazing, because then you have real proof and back-up that actually the Catholic Church does want to embrace everyone and does want to encompass those that are usually ignored.”
For the past 40 years, Caritas St. Joseph has supported people with intellectual disabilities, as well as their families and friends, in the English Diocese of Westminster. Formerly known as St. Joseph’s Pastoral Centre, Caritas St. Joseph wants to share its expertise far beyond the borders of Westminster diocese, which includes all of London north of the River Thames and some outlying areas.
Williams believes that some parishes are scared of catechizing those with learning disabilities. She is on a mission to persuade them that it can, in fact, be “a really joyful journey.”
Her interest in catechesis began when her oldest son, who is severely dyslexic, started his First Communion course at the age of seven.