Media Release: Christmas Mass Double Celebration for Genevieve
The Identitywa Christmas Mass on 7 December was a double celebration for Tom and Fay Tranter, falling almost 36 years to the day their daughter Genevieve became one of the first West Australians with intellectual disability to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Auxiliary Bishop Sproxton lead the Mass at St Lawrence and Mary Immaculate Parish, Balcatta which capped off a week of celebrations in WA for Disability Awareness Week.
Tom Tranter explained that “From her earliest days we always brought Genevieve with us to Mass. This was an occasion she enjoyed so it was a huge shock to us when at age two she contracted encephalitis. The ravages of the disease took its toll and from a settled child her behaviour became unpredictable and at times highly disruptive to the extent we were no longer able to take her to Mass.
“As the years passed we became more and more concerned that our Genevieve would never be able to participate in the life of the Church. That all changed through the efforts of a small group of parents and supporters who understood the spiritual and faith needs of Genevieve and others like her. We were privileged to be part of this group.
“By their efforts in advocating for the acceptance of our children with intellectual disability into the Sacramental life of the Church a new dawning and a new organisation, Catholic Care for Intellectually Handicapped Persons (now Identitywa) arrived.
“With the consent of Archbishop Goody on 10 December 1977 at Clontarf Church, Genevieve at the age of 13 was confirmed along with 23 others by Bishop Robert Healy (now deceased), Father Barry Hickey (now Emeritus Archbishop Hickey), and Father Pat Cunningham (previous Editor of The Record). Then on 26 June 1978 Archbishop Goody released a statement about the reception of Confirmation and Holy Communion by people with an intellectual disability”.
Fay Tranter recalled that, “Genevieve actually felt uneasy with the crowd of people in the Church, so Bishop Healy, Father Hickey and Father Cunningham confirmed Genevieve in the gardens of Clontarf where she felt more comfortable. For us now, the Identitywa Christmas Mass is a reminder of the good news for Genevieve, and others in like circumstances, contained in the Archbishop’s Statement.” A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Perth said “The Catholic community in Perth has come a long way since Genevieve’s confirmation nearly four decades ago. The invaluable wide-range of services now being offered to thousands of people with varying disabilities and their families and friends is a witness to the ongoing commitment the Archdiocese has to serving those in need. We are also conscious that this is no time to be complacent. There is still much work to be done to ensure every person with a disability has a true sense of belonging within the Christian community and in society itself.”The Tranter family joined over 230 people at Identitywa’s Christmas Mass which included readings, the offertory procession and altar serving performed by people with support needs.
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