By Andres Rivera
SAN BERNARDINO—Inspired by her son and called to serve as an advocate for the disabled and their families, Anna Maria Cruz spearheaded a venture to have a key statement offered by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops translated into Spanish.
Cruz, the secretary for the Diocesan Ministry Formation Institute, collaborated with others at the Diocesan Pastoral Center to translate the USCCB Pastoral Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities. The translated document also includes the 1988 Resolution on the Tenth Anniversary of the Pastoral Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities.
“I was inspired to translate this document by my son Fernando Asael Arechiga-Cruz, my three year old baby with Down Syndrome and by all people with disabilities,” Cruz said. “I do believe in what the document says that ‘the Church finds its true identity when it fully integrates itself with these ‘marginal’ people, including those who suffer from physical and psychological disability.’”
Theresa Rocha, vicariate consultant for the Office of Catechetical Ministry hopes having the document available in English and Spanish will help bring more awareness and create dialogue on how the Church ministers to the disabled at every level.
“I don’t think people are aware of it,” Rocha said. “This translation gives us an opportunity to reintroduce this document to the parishes so they can see the richness of the document.”
The document will be available during the Office of Catechetical Ministry’s Spring Gathering that will focus on special needs on June 6 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center.
Cruz was first introduced to the document while attending the National Catholic Partnership on Disability Regional Meeting in 2010 in the Diocese of Phoenix. Comparing Jesus’s ministry to the disabled of his time, the document calls the church to continue to expand its ministry to the disabled and their families.
“If you aren’t touched by someone who is deaf or blind, then you don’t have that kind of tolerance,” Cruz said. “That is what we need: tolerance, love and support.”
While preparing for a workshop on ministering to families with disabled persons she was to give at one of the annual Catechist Days that the Office of Catechetical Ministry provides catechists in the diocese, she was not able to find the document in Spanish.
She contacted the Associate Director of Permissions Mary Sperry at the USCCB seeking to find out if the document could be translated.
After some dialogue, the diocese was granted permission to translate the document provided that the USCCB retain the copyright, the USCCB review the translation before publishing and that the document would not be sold commercially.
Cruz translated the document during her free time and had the translation reviewed by Petra Alexander, director of the office of Hispanic Affairs; Maria Antonia Amao, vicariate consultant for the office of Catechetical Ministry and Marcella Ruiz, department administrator of the Department of Educational Services.
The translated document will soon be made available through the USCCB’s website under the Human Life and Dignity section.