Session 2 Panel 3

Families and Parish; Supporting Families with Special Needs. 

11:30 - 12:30    Panel 3: Families and Parish; Supporting Families with Special Needs. 
(Hall 3) – EN 🎧 ES, FR

Moderator: Tim Kearney, L’Arche Community, International. 
Text available for download - Click here

• Christina Gangemi, The Kairos Forum, Scotland   Text available for download - Click here  Presentation for download here
• Marian and Vincent Bradley and Family, Parents Testimony, Ireland (North) Text available for download - Click here
• Michael Gannon, Marketing Team Member, World Meeting of Families, Ireland Text available for download - Click here Presentation for download here

“People with disabilities are a gift for the family and an opportunity to grow in love, mutual aid and unity” (AL, 47). “With special gratitude the Church supports families who accept, raise and surround with affection, children with various disabilities” (AL, 80). This panel celebrates families with special needs and discusses the various ways in which the parish can support them.  


Tim Kearney, L’Arche Community, International 

International Delegate for L’Arche International, and member of L’Arche International Leadership Team since 2008. He spent three years in the community of L’Arche Trosly in France the early 80’s, before returning to Ireland in 1984 to found a L’Arche community in his native city of Cork, where he lives with his wife Maria and their four children. After 14 years of leadership of the Cork community, he became regional coordinator for L’Arche Ireland for 9 years, and zone coordinator for L’Arche in Northern Europe for 4 years. Before L’Arche, he lectured in Anglo-Irish literature in University College Dublin and All Hallows College in Dublin and was editor the cultural journal The Crane Bag. His book The Prophetic Cry (Veritas) on the spirituality of L’Arche, was published in 2001.

Christina Gangemi, The Kairos Forum, Scotland   

Cristina Gangemi holds a Master’s degree in Pastoral Theology and Lay ministry, with a special focus on Disability. She is Director of The Kairos Forum, which focuses on enabling communities to be places of belonging for people with a disability. She has had extensive experience in Special Education, the training of specialised Lay ministers and parent support and is currently working with Livability and other charities. Cristina has recently worked with the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation and Catechesis on issues regarding disability. During the 2012 Games she was a spokesperson for the Christian community and is a national advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. 

Marian and Vincent Bradley, Parents Testimony, Ireland (North)

Marian and Vincent Bradley have been married for 24 years. They have 3 children, Finola aged 21, Ronan, 18 and Meabh who is 15. Finola is currently studying languages at Queens University, Ronan has just finished final year in St Malachy’s College, Belfast and Meabh attends Fleming Fulton Special School. Vincent is a librarian and is now a full time carer. He represents parents/carers in a charity for young people with disabilities called Autonomie. For his down time, he is a club runner and does the odd marathon as well.  Marian is a lecturer in Religious Studies / Religious Education  in St Mary’s University College,  Belfast and in Drumalis Retreat Centre Larne. She has worked in the diocese, parish and in educational  areas reflecting on how to make the Church and education  more open and welcoming place for those with disabilities. Other interests include SPRED, Special educational needs and  faith issues.

Michael Gannon, Marketing Team Member, World Meeting of Families, Ireland

Michael Gannon was born in 1980 and became one of the first people with Down syndrome to participate in mainstream education in the Republic of Ireland. He lives in Newbridge, Co Kildare with his parents. He completed three years on the Inclusive Learning Initiative (ILI) Course at the  National University of Ireland, Maynooth, graduating with a Certificate in Personal Learning and  Media Studies.  In January 2014 Michael spent two weeks as an intern in the English  Department of Vatican Radio, Rome. Michael regularly presents to medical students at Tallaght Hospital and at University College  Dublin.  He is a member of Newbridge Pantomime Group and the Newbridge Musical Society.   He has appeared on the Afternoon Show in RTE as an occasional reporter. In 2013 he  published his book called Straight Up, No Sugar. In 2017 he published a book of poetry called A Song for You.



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