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SS. Peter and Paul Disability/Chronic Illness Awareness Ministry

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15: 13-14)

Open Doors, Open Minds, Open Hearts

The disability/chronic illness awareness ministry was formed in March 2013 in an effort to continue to make SS. Peter and Paul Parish community welcoming to all people.

The group has evaluated the physical needs of the campus. Changes include better signage to identify handicapped bathrooms, and carved-out spaces throughout the church to accommodate persons in wheelchairs. The ministry has also planned several Open doors, Open minds, Open hearts awareness masses at the church. These masses are designed to welcome people of differing abilities to our community. A reception with information is provided after each mass.

Announcements are also provided in the bulletin regarding local events related to disabilities and/or chronic illness. Parish advocates for the disabled/chronically ill are Winifred Hewitt at and Laura Seil Ruszczyk at

Hamburg HopeKeepers

As part of the ministry there is a Hamburg HopeKeepers group at the church. Hamburg HopeKeepers is a Christian-based chronic illness support group that meets twice monthly in the parish meeting room.  HopeKeepers typically meets from 12:30-2:30 on various Saturdays throughout the year.

The group is designed for people with physical chronic illness and/or pain. Members offer support, friendship and prayer to one another. New members are always welcome. For more information and for a schedule contact Laura Seil Ruszczyk at

 Open Doors

A parish opens doors whenever it takes concrete steps to exercise God's compassion for people with physical, mental or emotional limitations.  In the story of the paralyzed man from the town of Capernaum, Christ demonstrates his desire to welcome and heal all God's people.  He shows a particular interest in providing access to those limited by the cultural barriers and biases of the day.  

“Some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowd made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic “My child, your sins are forgiven.”    Mark 2:3-7    

Open Minds

Our church opens minds through awareness about the variety of disabilities that affect people every day.  All people have differing abilities.  There is no us and them when it comes to disabilities.   At some point all people experience some form of disability which makes us all only temporarily-abled. 

The National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities ( works in cooperation with the United States Catholic Bishops. NCPD was established in 1982 to promote implementation of the 1978 Pastoral statement of the US Catholic Bishop on People with Disabilities.  This statement calls for full inclusion of all persons with disabilities in the church and in society.  It is up to people in each parish to make this vision a reality.  NCPD publishes a monthly newsletter, hosts occasional webinars and presents Catholic perspectives on disability issues.

Open Hearts

 “Full participation in the Christian community has another important aspect that must not be overlooked.  When we think of people with disabilities in relation to ministry, we tend automatically to think of doing something for them. We do not reflect that they can do something for us and with us….Moreover, they have the same duty as all members of the community to do the Lord’s work in the world, according to their God given talents and capacity.”   - United States Catholic Bishops Pastoral Statement on People with Disabilities

Awareness Prayer

God, creator of all, help us to recognize that each of us has abilities and each of us has limitations. And yet we all have a part to play in bringing about Your Kingdom.

You love each of us profoundly. In the spirit of gratitude and solidarity, we ask you to increase our awareness of both the gifts and the needs of those around us.

Open our hearts, minds and doors to the gifts of every person. Help us to become truly welcoming communities where everyone can find their place at your table. We ask this in Your name, Amen.