On our last full day of service in Chicago, we visited a place unlike any other I visited before. It really was an amazing model that resembled Heaven in so many ways. This service site was called Misericordia. Misericordia offers a community of care that maximizes potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities, many of whom are also physically challenged. By serving society’s most vulnerable citizens, Misericordia also serves the families who want the best for them, yet cannot provide it at home. I have to tell you, this model to serve people with great ability is a model that should be replicated in all 52 states.
For me, Misericordia was another reminder to me that people with disabilities can show us true joy and live a life worth living, a life of thriving and purpose.
They provide each person with a job to take part in each day, which helps provide purpose, and meaning! (Catholic Social Doctrine talks about the dignity of the human person along with employment!)
This is a strict contrast to what Iceland is doing to thousands of babies. The government and hospitals are seeking to eradicate down syndrome from their land. An interesting goal, until you hear about the means: they are aborting any baby with prenatal signs of down syndrome. This is real in the world, I just saw it in the news! They don’t consider it killing, they mentioned they see life not as black and white, but rather, life is a grey area. Just wow. Can you believe it?
During the day we were able to serve on a couple of different service sites. First, I got to serve in the laundry area(more fun than you think!). Misericordia goes through 3,800 pounds of laundry a day, talk about a lot! Regardless, one of the jobs offered is to fold (with precision!) the different sheets and towels. I was able to hear a bit about many people’s journeys,as well as share my own with people of all ages. In the afternoon, I had the blessing of working in the Recycling area. When we think about disability, we may tend to put a focus on the DISability. Well, let me tell you about a man I met named PJ. PJ oversaw a large part of sorting out and through the various recycling bags. I had a hard time figuring out how to sort through the different aluminums, plastics and boxes, as well as the proper locations for each. PJ had this service down to a science, and worked through each bag with great accuracy. I can’t say the same about my own work (I fumbled a lot) but meeting PJ, the dignity he found in sorting through dirty and smelly bags of recycling, gave me a new perspective on the importance of work and human dignity.
Do you tend to focus on ability, or judgment and DISability? I invite you to focus on each person’s strengths and great abilities, if you focus on inability, you are missing out.