Ada Magni, right, joins other members of the Order of Alhambra in prayer during the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Disabilities Awareness Mass on Feb. 13, 2022.

SCRANTON – Community groups and organizations that assist individuals with special needs came together on Feb. 13 at the Cathedral of Saint Peter to celebrate a Mass for Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Awareness.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist.

The Order of Alhambra, which has a local caravan, Alhamar No. 4, had several members attend the Mass.

“We can’t forget people that are God’s special children. They may be overlooked but we always want to remember them in our hearts and this is a wonderful opportunity to do that,” Ada Magni, Deputy Supreme Director and Scribe of the Exchequer, said.

The Order of Alhambra is a social organization dedicated to providing assistance to the intellectually disabled. It provides activities and support for special needs children and adults. Each year, the order also provides scholarships to educate undergraduate students studying to become special education teachers.

“We try to always help group homes. We go visiting at the White Haven Center singing Christmas carols, the Saint Joseph House, the Alhambra House, we go there as well,” Magni added.

Sister Maryalice Jacquinot, IHM, President & CEO of Saint Joseph’s Center, represented her residents and staff at the special liturgy.

“I really appreciate this annual liturgy because it is affirming to the people that we support and it also helps to build community within the Church and the broader society to say that everyone is accepted, everybody is welcome,” Sister Maryalice explained.

The mission of Saint Joseph’s Center is to provide individuals and families who have special needs the opportunity to develop their abilities and potential to the fullest extent possible. The organization has residential, community and home-based services.

For the last two years, many of the residents at Saint Joseph’s Center have been limited in their interactions with the broader community for health and safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because the Mass for Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Awareness was broadcast on Catholic Television, many residents were still able to take part.

“Prayer still unites. It crosses all boundaries,” Sister Maryalice added.

During his homily, Bishop Bambera emphasized that all individuals have gifts to share with the church and society. He said individuals with special needs provide us all with priceless lessons on how to live as disciples of Jesus.

“You teach us that we are all a part of God’s plan and each of us is blessed by God for being just the way we are,” Bishop Bambera said.