September 11, 2015

Mass for Persons with Disabilities to be Celebrated During World Meeting of Families

Philadelphia, PA (September 11, 2015) – The annual Archdiocesan Mass honoring the lives and gifts of persons with disabilities will be celebrated during the historic World Meeting of Families—Philadelphia 2015.  This year’s Mass is hosted by the Office for Persons with Disabilities and the Deaf Apostolate along with National Catholic Organizations who serve the needs of persons with disabilities and the Deaf community.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend, and an alumnus of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, will be the principal celebrant.  He has served as Episcopal Moderator for the National Catholic Office for the Deaf.  Father Mike Depcik, OSFS, who is deaf, will be the homilist. Father Depcik serves as Director of Deaf Ministry for the Archdiocese of Detroit. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015
7:00 p.m.
Shrine of Saint John Neumann
Saint Peter Church
1019 North 5th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123

The Nevilaires Choir, composed of individuals who are blind and partially sighted, will perform the prelude. The Presentation B.V.M. Parish, Cheltenham, and Saint Joseph Parish, Cheltenham, Choirs will perform the Liturgical music.  The Deaf Apostolate Papal American Sign Language Choir will sign the World Meeting of Families—Philadelphia 2015 Official Hymn, Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom.

All are welcome to attend this special celebration, especially persons with disabilities, the deaf community, and families, friends, neighbors, and caregivers of those with disabilities. A light reception sponsored by Our Sunday Visitor will be held immediately following Mass.  Free parking is available near the Shrine of Saint John Neumann.

Information for Persons with Disabilities/Deaf Community Regarding World Meeting Events

The World Meeting of Families is fully committed to providing a safe and accessible environment for all participants. Facilities and venues will be physically accessible to wheelchair users.  For individuals that are deaf/hard of hearing, a team of sign language interpreters will interpret keynotes, liturgies and breakout sessions at the World Meeting of Families Congress. 

These signers will also interpret the programming occurring on the stage at Independence Hall, as well as the Festival of Families and the Papal Mass, which will be broadcast on select Jumbotrons. 

For individuals that are blind or partially sighted, audio description via assistive listening devices will be provided as an accommodation at the Festival of Families and the Papal Mass.  There will be a reserved area in Von Colln Memorial Field at 23rd and Pennsylvania Avenue for those needing audio description. To access Von Colln Memorial field a Reserve Standing Event Ticket is required. With these Reserved Standing Section Tickets individuals who are wheel chair users and one companion will be directed to the reserved ADA Platform areas. Positions on the platforms will be provided on a first-come first served basis.  Please RSVP to [email protected] if you are blind or partially sighted and will be attending these events. 

Children with disabilities are welcome to participate in the Youth Congress at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  Personal Care Attendants for children who need individual support can attend the conference free of charge. This person can be the child’s parent, but PCAs will need to be screened as volunteers prior to the conference. There is a designated space within the Youth Congress especially designed for children who may need a quiet rest area or sensory break. Volunteers with experience with children with disabilities will be staffing this area which will provide calming music, movement and tactile activities.

Additional ADA Accommodations

Please note the accessible stations for Regional Rail, Septa Buses and Trolleys: .  Also note the distances that will need to be traveled:

WMOF-contracted bus parking is as close to events as possible, taking into consideration the vehicle restrictions established by the City of Philadelphia.  These bus parking facility locations were chosen for proximity to ADA accessible public transportation. WMOF-contracted bus parking facilities will make appropriate accommodations for those with disabilities, including portable restrooms and accessible routes among parked vehicles. 

Rental wheelchairs and scooters will be made available at the Stadium lots and the Pa. Convention Center. The link to mobility device rentals is There will be available charging stations for electronic wheelchairs at the Red Cross stations.

Magnetometers provided by United States Secret Service for access to the secure zone of this event will be ADA compliant.  Listing of the check points is available at:[email protected]

Approximately ten percent of all portable restrooms, temporarily installed for this event, will be ADA compliant as are all water facilities, food service and retail stations.  For water stations, ADA compliance will extend to all bubbler stations, concessions and free water bottle locations (where available). 

Appropriate accommodations for service animals are available for the Parkway and Independence Mall events.

About the Office for Persons with Disabilities and the Deaf Apostolate

The Office for Persons with Disabilities and the Deaf Apostolate fosters the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the life of the Church and serves as a pastoral resource for parishes and individuals in providing access and welcome to persons with disabilities. The Deaf Apostolate provides Masses and Sacraments in American Sign Language, pastoral care and religious education to the Catholic community who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.

About World Meetings of Families

Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015).  Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe. For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, visit You can also engage the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia on Facebook (World Meeting of Families 2015) (Encuentro Mundial de las Familias – Filadelfia 2015), Twitter (@WMF2015) (@WMF2015ES) and Instagram (WMF2015).

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Editor’s Note: For more information or to RSVP for the Mass for Persons with Disabilities, please go to or contact Sister Kathleen Schipani at [email protected] or 215‐587‐3530 with number attending and accommodations needed.