SCRANTON – Practice certainly paid off for Gerard Wazeter, who served as a lector for the Mass for Persons with Disabilities which was held on Feb. 11, 2024.

“I practiced a lot. I felt comfortable,” he said.

This year was the fourth time the Trucksville resident attended the special Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. He also served as lector several years ago.

“It made me feel great,” Wazeter added. “It made me feel special.”

Gerard Wazeter of Trucksville proclaims the second reading during the Mass for Persons with Disabilities on Feb. 11, 2024.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist for the celebration on the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. In his homily, he noted how Pope Francis offered his monthly prayer intention for people with disabilities in December.

Bishop Bambera quoted the Holy Father, saying, “People with disabilities are the most fragile among us. Some of them suffer rejection rooted in either ignorance or prejudice which then marginalizes them. Civil institutions need to support their projects through access to education, employment and places where they can express their creativity. Programs and initiatives are needed that promote their inclusion. Above all else, big hearts are needed who want to accompany them. It means changing our mentality a little and opening ourselves to the abilities and talents of these people who are merely differently abled both in society as well as in the life of the Church.”

Those words touched Patrick Cannon of Nanticoke, who has attended the Mass for Persons with Disabilities since it began.

“It was beautiful. I enjoy this every year,” he said. “It touches me because it helps people like me that have disabilities. It brings everybody closer as a family.”

Numerous residents of Saint Joseph’s Center bless us with their presence and participation in the Mass for Persons with Disabilities.

Several local organizations, including Saint Joseph’s Center, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community and the Order of Alhambra, local caravan Alhamar #4 in Wilkes-Barre, partner with the Diocese of Scranton for the Mass.

“We’re a Catholic organization that was founded in 1904 and we assist those with intellectual disabilities,” Ada Magni, Scribe of the Exchequer with the Order of Alhambra, explained. “We offer a summer festival each year. We have dinner dances for those with Special Olympics.”

Magni says the Mass for Persons with Disabilities is important because it shows that everyone has gifts and talents that can be used – especially in the life of the church.

Many people with disabilities served as greeters, ushers, lectors, and gift bearers for the Mass.

“It touches people’s hearts to really see their kindness and their goodness,” she said. “They shine through in so many ways. As much as we try to touch their lives, they impact us in so many ways!”