Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Life of Love and Advocacy: Eunice Kennedy Shriver

"Eunice Kennedy Shriver," said the family this morning as they released the news of her death a few hours ago,"was the light of our lives, a mother, wife, grandmother, sister and aunt who taught us by example and with passion what it means to live a faith-driven life of love and service to other. For each of us, she often seemed to stop time itself -- to run another Special Olympics games, to visit us in our homes, to attend to her own mother, her sisters and brothers, and to sail, tell stories, and laugh and serve her friends. Her work transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and they in turn are her living legacy."

Shriver is best known for her work with the Special Olympics and for helping establish the games 40 years ago. Unspired by her sister Rosemary who lived with with intellectual disability, Eunice began the Special Olympics which have brought tens of thousands of people with special needs into the public world. She consistently saw the value of every human being and believed they had talents to develop and gifts to cherish. She was an advocate. She ministered faithfully and boldly in the public world.

In two congregations I served years ago our educational ministry included those with intellectual disability. In one case we had special outreach to children. In another a lay woman urged us to start evening adult educational ministry with intellectually disabled adults. We did1 Every congregation has a calling to serve through educational ministry opportunities people with the whole range of intellectual abilities. In many cases this will be in regular classroom settings. However, it is very important that congregations discuss how they will minister, including what methods, materials and settings will be used. Letting this ministry be known, even just by word of mouth, says, "You are welcome. You are God's created, gifted people. You belong."

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