Honoring and recognizing the gifts of those whom Pope Francis calls “the masterpieces of God’s creation” – persons with special needs – hundreds of archdiocesan faithful gathered for the seventh annual White Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on Nov. 20.
In his welcoming remarks, Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, rector of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, said the white vestments worn by the clergy, as well as by many of those in attendance serves to “remind us of our Baptismal promises and how that connects us to Christ and to one another.”
Auxiliary Bishop of Washington Mario E. Dorsonville was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Msgr. John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, was the homilist. Among the lectors, gift bearers and altar servers were children, young adults and adults with special needs.
The archdiocesan Department of Special Needs Ministries hosted the liturgy, which took place on the feast of Christ the King.
In his homily, Msgr. Enzler recalled his time as a student at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, 50 years ago, when he first got involved in outreach to those with severe and profound disabilities. He said that ministry profoundly affected him, becoming the seeds of his future priestly vocation. “I learned a lot about love, about giving back” and in return, receiving great joy, he said.
Msgr. Enzler said, as head of the local Catholic Charities, he knows the Church’s many assistance programs do so much good for people and offer help to those with many different needs, but he still hopes more can be done. “We need to help each other to make sure no one is left out,” he said. “Every person, every parish, every priest in the archdiocese needs to make sure all are included, all are welcomed, all are part of the Body of Christ.”
Jenn Lynnn, a parishioner of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Gaithersburg, attended the White Mass with her son, Jake Edwards, 14, who served as a lector for the Mass and has special needs. “This was just a beautiful celebration of everyone’s gifts and how those gifts are intertwined,” she said. “It’s good for the Church community to recognize all the gifts we have.”