Cardinal Donald Wuerl blesses the newly renamed Pope Francis Center in Landover Hills on Nov. 4. The building is home to the Center for Deaf Ministries, the St. Francis of Assisi Deaf Catholic Church, the Office of Persons with Disabilities and the Office of Youth Ministry/Catholic Youth Organization. In the background are Mary O’Meara, the executive director of the archdiocesan Department of Special Needs Ministries, and Father Daniele Rebeggiani, Cardinal Wuerl’s priest secretary (Archdiocese of Washington photo)
Cardinal Donald Wuerl blesses the newly renamed Pope Francis Center in Landover Hills on Nov. 4. The building is home to the Center for Deaf Ministries, the St. Francis of Assisi Deaf Catholic Church, the Office of Persons with Disabilities and the Office of Youth Ministry/Catholic Youth Organization. In the background are Mary O’Meara, the executive director of the archdiocesan Department of Special Needs Ministries, and Father Daniele Rebeggiani, Cardinal Wuerl’s priest secretary (Archdiocese of Washington photo)
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The Catholic Deaf Center building in Landover Hills has been renamed the Pope Francis Center to better reflect the varied ministries located in the building.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl officially blessed the newly renamed building on Nov. 4.

In blessing the building, Cardinal Wuerl asked our “God of mercy and truth (to) bless us and all who will visit this Pope Francis Center. He also prayed that those who are served by the ministries there “know the presence of Christ, experience the joy and friendship of Christ and grow in His love.”

He also presented the newly named center with a framed papal blessing that was signed by Pope Francis.

Located at 7202 Buchanan Street in Landover Hills adjacent to St. Mary Church and St. Mary School, the building since 1975 has housed the archdiocesan Center for Deaf Ministries and the St. Francis of Assisi Deaf Catholic Church.

In 2009, when Cardinal Wuerl created the Department of Special Needs Ministry, the building became home to the Office of Persons with Disabilities. Also, earlier this year the staff of the Office of Youth Ministry/Catholic Youth Organization moved into the building.

All of those ministries fall under the Secretariat of Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns, led by Susan Timoney.  

“Pope Francis has called on the Church to welcome the gifts of everyone. Our youth bring tremendous gifts to the Church as do those with special needs,” Timoney said.

Calling the blessing “an amazingly happy day,” she said that the name change highlights the fact that “the Holy Father always reminds us that the Church is the house of the Father where there is a place for everyone.”

The Department of Special Needs Ministries offers programs and outreach and serves persons who are deaf, persons who have low vision or are blind, persons with physical, developmental, intellectual or sensory disabilities, persons with mental illness, persons with HIV/AIDS; veterans with service related disabilities and others.

The Center for Deaf Ministries, in addition to sponsoring the deaf Catholic parish and other outreach to deaf and hard of hearing Catholics, also staffs the Catholic chaplaincy at Gallaudet University.

Mary O’Meara, the executive director of the Department of Special Needs Ministries said the name change “truly reflects the offices serving those in the margins and our youth.”

She added that it was “fitting that the offices housed here in the Landover Hills location” are named after Pope Francis because reaching out to “those in the margins and our youth (are) two such great passions of the Holy Father.”

The Office of Youth Ministry and Catholic Youth Organization reaches out and ministers to young people and their families through a variety of programs, events and sports activities that are designed to foster personal and spiritual growth.

“The new name reflects the unique programing we offer here, “ said Kevin Donoghue, the president and CEO of Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). “It brings together everything we do full circle and ties those we serve to the whole Church.”

He added that “while God and the Church have always been here with us,” the new name “relates us to the greater Church.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl said the ministries housed in the building “do very special work in welcoming everybody into the house of the Lord.”

He asked those who gathered for the blessing “to think of all the different people who are a part of the life of this Church because of what we do here. Because we all reflect God’s glory, we can all take pride in who we are.”