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Finding A Ride to Mass.

This is a revised version of an article I wrote several years ago and appeared on a few sites.

It is a topic of conversation that is often overlooked within the Catholic Church. An issue that most people don't even realize exists. In this case finding a ride to Mass. It can be a major challenge or struggle. Especially for those who are unable to drive. More so if that person has a disability that limits their ability to walk or easily get around. We are told all the time that we should make every effort to attend Mass. However we soon realize that our options to get there are extremely limited in most cases.

For those of us who contend with the daily challenges of disabilities and cannot drive, being unable to figure out how to find a ride to Mass, only adds to that frustration. It fuels the feelings of being a burden or inconvenience on someone else. Many of us who struggle to find rides have a deep desire to take part in the Mass. Yet we keep finding roadblocks in our path.

When the issue comes up in conversation. Most Catholics don't even realize this need exists. Those of us with disabilities are often left to fend for ourselves in trying to secure a ride to Mass. In many parishes their are few, if any, real options that exist.

The reasons for this are many. Much of it dealing with a lack of funding, few people willing to volunteer. Along with the issue related to insurance and liability for the church. But being unwilling to help to provide transportation options send the wrong message. Yet we, as a parish community, need to find reasonable and fair solutions to this extremely challenging problem that many of us face.

At some point in the conversation the idea of using public transportation or accessible bus services comes up. Along with ride share services such as Uber or Lyft. Depending on the region public transportation may not be practical. Some services do not run a full seven days per week. Or if they do run it is not at a time when one can make it to Mass. While ride sharing can be useful in theory. That may not always be practical due to the cost. More so if the person seeking the ride is on a fixed income or needs additional accommodations, such as help with a wheel chair or walker.

What can be done? Making more of an effort to provide better transportation options is an untapped opportunity to evangelize. While helping to provide a much desired need in the parish community. For those who do not already have close friends and family in the parish, trying establish connections can be very difficult. While many non-Catholic churches have their own shuttle services. The option many be out of reach for Catholic parishes due to the high level of insurance and liability costs. For many Catholics with disabilities, this leaves asking for a ride from fellow parishioners as the only real option.

Asking for a ride can be a struggle for some people. It can be difficult to approach someone in the parish. It can generate high levels of fear and anxiety. Mainly due to worry about being turned down. A fear exists of rejection and that we are causing an inconvenience. Especially for those of us with mobility issues. Along with the reality that many with disabilities also deal with social anxiety.

This can make the idea of asking someone for help, especially someone you don't know very well, extremely challenging. Many of us have already had to content with a great deal of rejection, or at the worse, total silence in our lives. Overcoming this, especially when we have had to deal with this too often can be very hard. As it relates to finding a ride to Mass? We just don't know who we can ask and who would be willing to help. With no easy ways to find the answer.

Transportation is an area of concern that parishes should look at more closely. If we want to be truly welcoming communities, it is important for church leaders to proactively take the time and effort to help those in their parishes who have a deep desire to attend Mass. Even the smallest of efforts can be a big help over all. Such as keeping a list in the parish office of people who are willing to volunteer to give rides. That way if someone calls looking for a ride. They can be connected to the right people. It goes along way to answering the questions of "Who do I ask?" and "Can I get a ride?"

A person who is unable to drive or lacks connections should not be prevented from being able to attend Mass. As Catholics we must do everything we can to take everyone, even those with disabilities or are elderly, into consideration. Often times the solutions to a major problem are often the most simple.

If our parish communities want to be truly welcoming places, then every effort should be made to help those with limited resources to be able to attend Mass in person. This is both a way to serve others and help bring them closer to Christ. Let us make an effort to ensure that everyone is welcome in the Church.-JM

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