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Archive for the ‘illinois’ tag

Making Room for People With Disabilities

Photo Credit to Creative Commons by Patrick Brown
from State of Formation

Each person was different and each brought with them their own challenges and gifts. Some of them had significant language challenges and behavior problems that were hard to navigate. Some were capable of a relatively normal life with a job, social life, and real community. The major aspect of the person center planning process is dreaming. This is what seemed to be the most difficult part of the institutional environment. As much as these people were cared for and even happy to some extent, they had very few dreams for themselves and the only people in their lives were paid to be there and so no one had aspirations for these people beyond the most basic care. My mom and I had to stretch ourselves to think of dreams for these people we didn’t even know. These individuals had been cut off from their families and natural relationships and put into a clinical environment that lacked the kind of creativity, which can only come from genuine relationships.

The experience has made me reflect on how important community is to human dignity and fulfillment. One of the most attractive aspects of organized religions is their capacity for community. When talking to these individuals about what they want out of life, participation is a faith community was a common desire. I’ve known many people with disabilities who have found strength and acceptance in their faith communities. My sister reads the bible more than anyone else I know. She always asks me about different characters and stories that shes been reading and I don’t always know the passages she is referring to. She is someone that takes her faith seriously and yet our home parish has no program to support her and so she attends a bible study at another church. Christian congregations generally don’t have a good grasp on how to incorporate people with disabilities. The bible study that my sister goes to is a special group, only for people with developmental delays and cognitive disabilities. There are a lot of programs out there with similar models. The problem is that they simply create a separate but equal kind of system where people with disabilities have to participate in a parallel congregation. I haven’t seen any programs that have really incorporated people with disabilities in to the main parish programming.

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Building a Mosque After 9/11: A Tale of Two Cities

by Jesse Marx
from Orland Park Patch

The year was 1978. Bob Marley convinced warring Jamaican factions to shake hands. China lifted a ban on the works of Shakespeare. Pete Rose logged his 3,000th major league hit.

And in the sparsely populated town of Frankfort, Illinois, a small group of Sunni Muslims founded a Sunday school to preserve their cultural heritage and religious doctrine that would later become known as the American Islamic Association.

After four years of renting local classrooms and offices, enough money was raised to purchase property from a Frankfort crop duster at 8860 W. Saint Francis Rd. The farmhouse would eventually become the school. The airplane hangar would become the prayer hall.

“It was nothing but pure farm land,” AIA co-founder and vice chairman Tariq Khan recalled. “Saint Francis Road was just basically a one-lane road with an S-curve and a small bridge that only one car could pass at a time.”

The Islamic organization flew mostly under the Frankfort community’s radar for the next two decades, steadily raising money to erect a proper place of worship and dining on their property. Those who knew of the Sunday school and prayer hall, including its one and only neighbor, were very supportive, Khan said. Unlike the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, there would be no angry mob and police barricades after the felling of the World Trade Center.

“As far as I’ve heard, people didn’t even know we were there,” said Khalid Mozaffar, AIA communications and outreach director, as well as the assistant principal of its school. “There’s a long driveway. Now, of course, you can see the big dome from Saint Francis Road. Back then it was just another house.”

Isolated though it was, by Khan’s estimation the congregation has grown from its 1980s collection of 25 families, mainly of Indian and Pakistani descent, to almost 400 families today.

Mozaffar said he knows non-Muslims living in Frankfort who were asked to sign a petition against the construction of the group’s mosque, even though such opposition never turned up at the public hearings to obtain building permits in late 2002. The Frankfort Village Board approved the permits unanimously and AIA broke ground in 2005, with only minor irruptions coming from a few anonymous phone-call threats and broken windows.

“We never felt like we were in danger or we were harassed,” Mozaffar said. “When we were building the new building, there were some who said, ‘Oh, we can’t have a mosque here.’ And then we said, ‘But we’ve been here for 20 years,’ and the whole argument went away.”

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September 13th, 2011 at 10:54 am