‘The community needed this:’ Diocese of BR holding ‘Sensory Mass’ for those with special needs

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge is looking to be more inclusive with a sensory mass for those with special needs and their families.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 10:45 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge is looking to be more inclusive with a sensory Mass for those with special needs and their families.

Jodi Devore and Edda Dupaquier are your typical devout Catholics here in South Louisiana.

They both love God, and they love their families.

“I have three children, they are seven, six, five and they are all autistic,” said Devore.

“I have five children, two of them are autistic,” said Dupaquier.

They know all too well the challenges most families face when bringing their children or older family members with special needs to Mass.

So, they wanted to change that narrative.

“It all started when I sent out an invitation to everybody inviting parents with children with special needs to my house for prayer to start a small group, and it kind of took off from there,” said Devore.

But the ladies felt like they needed to somehow get more people involved. And that’s when they approached the church and later the diocese about their big idea, for a sensory-friendly Mass.

“The first Mass was April 1 (Palm Sunday). It was an incredible success, we had over 110 people,” said Dupaquier.

It’s one first of its kind in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, and it is still the celebration of the entire Mass with the Eucharist.

But there are sensory items and bags, fidgets, an ASL interpreter, the mass is also in braille, and more.

“We had volunteers, we had people that came in, and just hadn’t been to Mass in a long time and felt finally a part of back to their faith, and made a connection back to their faith, because they felt that they belonged in that Mass,” said Dupaquier.

“From the beginning, it seemed like this was the Holy Spirit at work,” said Deacon Randall Waguespack, who is the deacon at St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland in Albany.

Deacon Waguespack said it’s given people an opportunity to feel more comfortable and welcome at Mass again.

“It gives people with special needs an opportunity to participate, to serve as readers and lectors, and bring up the gifts. We also have people with special needs who are going to serve as altar servers in the Mass. So, it gives them an opportunity to truly feel like they are a part of the church because they are,” said Waguespack.

Parents were so joyful at the first Mass, and these ladies are so excited to bring that sense of belonging to their next service at the end of May.

“That’s one of the goals of this ministry is to make the invisible visible. To make all these people present, because we’re all one body in the Body of Christ,” said Dupaquier.

The women hope to have at least one Sensory Mass every month in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

The next Sensory Mass will take place on Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m. at St. George Catholic Church in Baton Rouge. Everyone is welcome!

Sensory Mass in Diocese of Baton Rouge flyer.
Sensory Mass in Diocese of Baton Rouge flyer.(WAFB)

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