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  • Deacon Dan Wright serves the Diocese of Austin, Texas. His work outside the parish is as a special education teacher serving students with significant cognitive disabilities.



  • Family activities, spirituality, liturgy, Christian apologetics, social justice topics, special education issues, and promoting the peace and unity of the human family.
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October 03, 2007



dd, it must be very disheartening to receive phonecalls like that. I'm wondering, though, if part of the problem with the "volunteers" is that they have their own inner fears of losing control of the situation, or of the class as a whole. With the RE, they've probably been told that they have to cover a certain amount of material in x-number of weeks, and maybe they feel insecure about it to start with. Your ability to see the connection (and live it) between your role as a teacher and your ministry as a deacon is a blessing to both your students and your parishioners, because it frees you up to respond spontaneously to peoples' needs rather than putting curriculum or parish duties first.


As a RE "teacher" for years, I'll tell you, it would be Pandemonium City to mainstream any very different children in a one- to three-hour RE class in which the students are wont to do anything but pay attention to the material at hand. I've taught or worked with 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th grade students. Only the 10th graders would be able to not be distracted or not try to join anyone wandering or singing.

Perhaps it is different in Texas, or perhaps your shoulders are sufficiently (threateningly) wider than mine, but I substituted in a 7th grade class, and when telling them stories of demoniacs being healed by Christ, someone's darling interrupted to shout, "Lady, you watch too much television!" which made the classroom roar.. From there, while I went to the right side of the room to make sure everyone could hear, Darling snuck over to the left to hide in a portable podium thing that was hollowed out, and the room went bananas --all but one girl. I said, "Jesus, I could use a demoniac-healing gift right about now," but only the girl heard me.

My husband and I, before we were married, tutored a 24-year old who was trying to nail a couple of college courses.. but he'd never been in a school prior to this! His cerebral palsy had been deemed too challenging/disrupting. He was not able to do much of anything for himself, and his eye muscles didn't cooperate so he could only read by overhead projector--until we read aloud to him each night. That non-schooling was far more extreme injustice than it was of wisdom, of course -- somewhere along the way, someone at school administration level should've gotten him into the school scene.

Until we tutored him, I too, had always looked away--thinking it polite to do so! but after a few weeks of working with him at his bedside or at tableside, watching everything he had to conquer just to laugh, just to sip through his straw, to eat, to speak on the phone, etc., and then, our taking him to plays and concerts and restaurants, etc., well, he was just Kev, just like us, only a little different. But it does take folks a while to understand that.

I don't mean to disagree with you whatsoever.. just wanted to give you another view of it all.


Great Catholic Website!

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