Office of Special Needs Ministry

The mission of the Special Needs Ministry

of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

To serve and support parishes in facilitating opportunities for a relationship with Christ by ensuring the fullest participation possible in the Catholic faith for all parishioners regardless of ability.

-- Adopted by the Office of Special Needs Advisory Council July, 2017

Special Needs Ministry Respite Care Program

 The Respite Care Program for families with children with disabilities has begun!! The program will be offered once a month from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Holy Cross School located at 8101 West 95th Street in Overland Park. The Respite Care program will be staffed by qualified staff and volunteers. Participants will engage in activities that will include, but not be limited to, faith formation, art, recreation and music.

The program is funded by a generous grant from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services. While designed to serve children between the ages of 6 and 18, parents who have a child younger or older who would like to have this service will accommodated. For exceptions to the age range, please contact Tom Racunas, Lead Consultant for the Special Needs Ministry, by calling 913.647.3054 or email at before completing the registration form.

Dates for the Respite Care Program:
October 28th
November 18th
December 16th
January 27th
February 24th
March 31st
April 28th
May 26th

Registration must be completed 10 days prior to the event. Acceptance will be based on the availability of volunteers. Volunteers are needed to be a buddy to a person with a disability! Volunteers are needed to make this program successful and sustainable. Please prayerfully consider this gift of stewardship. All volunteers 18 years of age and older must be VIRTUS trained and be properly screened before participating.

 Parents/Guardians can complete the registration form by clicking here.

 Volunteers can register by clicking here.

 If you are interested in learning more, or are ready to get involved right now, please contact Tom Racunas to talk about the many ways you can be a part of this wonderful, and growing ministry.  Call 913.647.3054 or email

We are always working towards building a stronger Christian community, and that means making ways for those with disabilities to be more fully involved with the liturgy. 

"It is essential that all forms of the liturgy be completely accessible to people with disabilities, since these forms are the essence of the spiritual tie that binds the Christian community together...Realistic provision must be made for persons with disabilites to participate fully in the Eucharist and other liturgical celebrations."

Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities, 1978, par. 23



Mission: That all means all...

Because “The Church firmly believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all,  can through His Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny.”  (Gaudium et Spes para. 10) the Office for Special Needs strives to empower and equip  parishes to encounter its members who have a disability so that they may be sanctified by the Church and in turn the Church may be sanctified by them.


  • All life is sacred and precious

  • All of us deserve to be treated with the fullest measure of dignity and respect

  • All of us have gifts that we are called to share with each other

Special Needs Ministry is building and growing, and we want your help in building a Church that is accessible to all!

The work of the ministry will be grounded in the vision of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops as expressed in the Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities [1978] and reaffirmed in Welcome and Justice [1998] See  Under the guidance of the Archbishop, the ministry will align its goals and objectives with the five year pastoral priorities of the (conversion, evangelization, all forms of Catholic education, outreach to those in need and stewardship) and the three key initiatives through 2017 (building a culture of evangelization, strengthening the vocation of marriage and family life, and cultivating relationships by engaging in corporal and spiritual works of mercy).

In general, the mission of the Special Needs Ministry is to help each parish insure the fullest participation possible for all parishioners in the life of the parish regardless of type, severity or age of onset of a disability.

The Special Needs Ministry works to provide the following:

  • Awareness information and/or workshops on types of disability and how a parish family can respond to needs

  • Assistance with the development and implementation of outreach and support systems for people with disabilities, their families and caregivers

  • Resources, curriculum and training for parents, catechists, and volunteers to provide sacramental preparation, on-going faith formation, participation in liturgies, and participation in the social life of the church

  • Practical information and education for persons with disabilities, their families and caregivers regarding available community services and supports

  • Accessibility assessments of the parish campus 

Tom Racunas, Special Needs Ministry Lead Consultant

You can reach Tom by calling 913.647.3054
or emailing


“The world does not become better because only apparently ‘perfect’ – not to mention fake – people live there but when human solidarity, mutual acceptance and respect increase. . . . Each of us, sooner or later, is called to face—at times painfully—frailty and illness, both our own and those of others.”  

Pope Francis, Mass for the Jubilee of the Sick and Persons with DisabilitiesJune 2016


"When we think of persons with disabilities in relation to ministries, we tend automatically to think of doing something for them.  We do not reflect that they can do something for us and with us. . . they have the same duty as all members of the community to do the Lord's work in the world, according to their God given talents and capacities."  

Pastoral Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities, no.17, NOD, 2001 


useful resources2



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