100 East Eighth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
1520 South Main Street
Dayton, OH 45409
(937) 281-4128 voice
Sensory Friendly Mass Resources
How does our parish begin to host a Sensory-Friendly Mass?
In order to host a Sensory-Friendly Mass, there are two steps: Awareness & Accommodation.
This first step is essential to help the average person in the pew understand the struggle of those with special needs. We have put together a number of RESOURCES that will assist you in creating awareness through:
• Bulletin Inserts & Announcements
If the parishioners can understand the need for a Sensory-Friendly Mass and what that Mass will look like, they are more likely to support it. We recommend spending at least a month (every parish will be different) focusing on awareness and understanding before hosting a Sensory-Friendly Mass.
The second step is simple- prepare and host the liturgy. We realize that not every parish is going to be able to meet all of the criteria for an ideal Sensory-Friendly Mass. The most important aspect of the liturgy for those with sensory issues is to be welcoming and inviting. Advertise for the Mass and extend an invitation to the special needs community in your area. A Sensory-Friendly Mass requires a few small adjustments, but they are not tedious or burdensome. CLICK HERE for ideas on how to make Mass more sensory-friendly.
If you would like to experience a Sensory-Friendly Mass, Bishop Binzer will be presiding at the Mass at St. Helen’s on June 23, 2019 at 3:00pm. We will be hosting a Processing Session afterwards for all parish staff and liturgical ministers who attend.
To hear more stories like these and learn how to get involved, CLICK HERE for podcasts, video interviews, articles, and resources.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is a Sensory-Friendly Mass necessary?
A vast majority of Catholic families with special needs members do not attend Mass for various reasons. They may feel stigmatized or fear being disruptive. They may have had a negative experience while attending in the past. They may feel that it is just too difficult. Regardless of the reason, having a Mass that is specifically welcoming to these families is an essential step in bringing them back into the Church. A Sensory-Friendly Mass does not require a tremendous amount of change on the part of the parish. Lower lights, acoustical music, and visual aids are simple ways to make a liturgy more sensory-friendly.
What if our parish already has a welcoming culture?
The parishes in the Dayton Deanery are known for being very welcoming; however, the welcoming nature of a particular church may not be known to a family who has never attended Mass there before.
Recently, upon attending Mass at my home Parish (which I find incredibly welcoming), I sat behind a family with a special needs little boy. He was probably 4 or 5 and I noticed some key signs that he had some developmental delays. His parents were struggling with him as he moved around the pew, played with the books, and even occasionally spoke to them. During the Homily he began to recite the alphabet, not loudly, but loud enough for those around him to hear. His mom became quite flustered. I longed to say something to comfort and welcome her, but she was a few rows ahead of me and I didn’t want to make a scene. I resolved that I would encourage her and her husband during the Sign of Peace; however, I never got the opportunity because she got up and left. I watched for her to come back or even go to Communion, but she must have gone home because she was nowhere to be found.
Setting aside a liturgy (even just one a month) for the special needs community, would allow for a more comfortable environment for families like these. It would remove the stigma for them, and enable them to more fully enter into the liturgy.
What are some ways to make Mass more sensory-friendly?
A Sensory-Friendly Mass requires three main criteria: a welcoming, stigma-free environment; an informed community; and a few special accommodations to help reduce instances of over-stimulation.
• No sudden increases in volume
• Slower tempo
• Fewer verses
• More consistent with Mass settings
Accessible Visual Aids
• Sample resources are included in the packet
Calming/Quiet area for when behavior becomes too disruptive
Access to Gluten Free Hosts
Smaller Host Portions
An invitation for those with special needs to bring necessary resources when attending
• Wiggle Seats
• Comforting Toys
• Noise Cancelling Headphones
• Sun Glasses
A prepared community who is ready to receive those with special needs without judgement