We are Messengers of Joy

by Jennifer Malloy, Indian Creek Foundation, jmalloy@indcreek.org

Faith and Light Pilgrimage
Indian Creek Foundation’s chaplain Pamela Landis with Sharon Weisser and Carol Menser, Spring Mount.

This past summer Indian Creek Foundation’s interfaith chaplain Pamela Landis, as well as Sharon Weisser and Carol Menser, both of the Spring Mount congregation, took part in a Faith and Hope Pilgrimage. Faith and Light Communities encompasses individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability and their family and friends who meet together on a regular basis in a Christian spirit to share friendship, pray together, and celebrate life.

During this four-day event, which was held in St. Louis, Missouri at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, the group took part in trolley tours of the Shrine and the St. Louis area, participated in ecumenical worship, sang uplifting hymns, and experienced the faith, fellowship, and spirituality of other Faith and Light members from all over the United States.

The theme of this year’s pilgrimage was “We are Messengers of Joy.” As messengers of joy, attendees were asked to be exuberant about their spirituality.

Faith and Light pilgrimages take place every ten years to commemorate the first pilgrimage the organization undertook in 1971. At that time some held a belief that those with disabilities had no place on a religious pilgrimage because they were thought to be incapable of experiencing this kind of activity and there was fear that their presence would disturb others.

Founded in Lourdes, France by two parents who began a journey to find a congregation where they would be accepted with their two sons with disabilities, the Faith and Light organization has grown to include more than 1,500 communities in 80 countries over six continents. The core value of Faith and Light remains the belief that every person, no matter what their ability, is called to be a source of grace and peace for their community.

Indian Creek Foundation’s Faith and Light program has been in existence since 1989. This program seeks to enrich the lives and the often underserved aspect of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities—their spirituality. Ecumenical services are presented monthly for individuals interested in exploring this avenue. These inter-faith gatherings provide a chance for clients to gather together, sing hymns, listen to stories, participate in activities, and share in each other’s fellowship. The monthly service is held on the first Friday of every month at the Indian Valley Mennonite Church from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

Founded in 1975, Indian Creek Foundation’s mission is to provide opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to live in and enrich the community throughout their lives. Through four divisions offering residential, vocational, family services, and social work programs, the Foundation continues to grow and meet the changing needs of the surrounding community.

For more information: indcreek.org or (267)203-1500.