Academic lecture supports Catholics with disabilities

Elizabeth A. Boudreaux

Staff Writer

An episode of the Step in Faith Academic Lecture Series titled “Disabilities within Catholicism across a Variety of Disciplines” was led virtually with faculty and staff from the education, social work and nursing departments, Feb. 20.

Megan Reister, who holds a doctorate in specialized education services, led the panel.

“Education is really the key that opens the door for success,” said Tina Greathouse, the student academic support services director and the first contributor to be interviewed.

Greathouse said that the educator must fight against discrimination. No matter each person’s abilities, she said, “we are all created in the image and likeness of God.”

Once this simple boundary is overcome, Greathouse said the success will be truly available to the individuals with disabilities.

Secondly, Ricardo Chaparro-Pacheco, who holds a masters in science, psychoanalysis, subjectivity and culture, spoke on cultural competence and cultural co-efficiency.

The matters of race, social class, gender and sexual preference, Chaparro-Pacheco said, are streamlined in his field despite the surrounding tension found in the Catholic Church.

“We cannot walk away from them,” he said, “so we rather encourage or rather embrace (a) philosophy of serving because of our faith, not in spite of our faith.”

Emily Sobeck, who holds a doctorate in special education, said that the issue of disabilities in the Church is vast.

“Disability impacts everyone,” Sobeck said. “Disability is not something that you can categorize and put into one shelf.”

It is Sobeck’s belief that equality is a priority when confronting disability, she said.

“Regardless of our personal beliefs, our religions, our personal thoughts, we as educators must first and foremost love and serve our students equally.”

Lastly, Diann Schmitt, who holds a masters in nursing, spoke about disabilities in the field of nursing. The most common place in which nurses would work with individuals with disabilities, Schmitt said, is in the school systems.

However, she also said, “I honestly could not think of one place that we do not work with individuals with disabilities.”

The panel was pre-recorded earlier due to inclement weather and emailed to students on the date it was scheduled to occur. The lecture was sponsored by Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Department of Education.