June 2001

Friendship, Inc. Sponsors National Conference on Inclusion Ministry

Friendship Inc. of Fargo, N.D., is collaborating with the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other organizations to sponsor the annual conference of the National Apostolate for Inclusion Ministry, to be held July 12-14 in Fargo.

The National Apostolate for Inclusion Ministry is a nonprofit membership organization for those concerned with the spiritual development of persons who have cognitive disabilities. “Friendship Inc. incorporates spirituality into the care of people who have developmental disabilities,” said Helaine Arnold, coordinator of spiritual services and volunteers at Friendship and co-chair of the conference. “We need to help faith communities reach out and include people with cognitive disabilities. In particular, I believe that churches need to reach parents who have children with special needs. These children need spiritual nourishment, but many church communities don’t know how to include them. The conference will provide some tools that can help.”

Keynote speakers will include Kitty Kruse, director of the Office for Equal Access Ministry for the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, who will review the journey of the ministry during the past 50 years. Rita Baum, SSJ, of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., will speak about the future of the ministry.

“We see Friendship’s support of the conference as a way of advocating for individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Arnold, who expects the conference to attract up to 500 attendees. “We want people with disabilities and their families who attend to feel uplifted by the church community.”