Parents with special needs kids can empathise with the challenges such families face, and the children themselves “love to get together all the time”, said Mr Michael Jalleh.
Mr Jalleh, whose 14-year-old daughter, Claire, is intellectually disabled, was among the 200 parents and children with special needs who attended the Purple Parade Mass at Agape Village in Toa Payoh.
The Nov 1 event, organised by the Office for the New Evangelisation (ONE), sought to honour those with special needs.
“More” people from the larger Catholic community should have been at the Mass “to get to know more about special needs children and adults too, because I think many of them don’t get to attend regular Mass”, said Mr Jalleh.
Some of the disabilities that the children who attended the Mass had included cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder and physical handicaps.
A few of them wandered around while waiting for Mass to begin while others sat quietly with their parents or guardians. One of the altar boys serving at the Mass was intellectually disabled.
Fr Edward Seah celebrated the All Saints’ Day Mass.
In his homily, he noted that people live among “saints” in their daily lives. “They are the ones who may be unknown to many people, but whose lives have touched ours, and we want to thank God for them,” he said.
After Mass, participants enjoyed refreshments and fellowship with one another.
Mr Lawrence Ng, whose son, Sebastian, 25, is intellectually disabled, told CatholicNews that the event was “an opportunity to meet with other parents and children with similar situations to share about the challenges we face”.
He added that future events should include “social activities, not just spiritual. Sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors to encourage more involvement.”
Over the year, ONE has organised various events for people with special needs.
In March, it organised a four-week course to help catechists work better work with young people with special needs.
In April, ONE held a workshop with SPARK (Society for the Promotion of ADHD Research and Knowledge) where participants learnt how a person with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) perceives the world and how they could fit into society.
Another workshop in July, titled Spirituality of the Special Needs Community, helped participants learn the personal and spiritual needs of people with special needs.
By Jared Ng