Deaf & Disabilities Ministries
September 2020
Dear Friend,
Welcome to the September newsletter of the Deaf and Disabilities Ministry of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph!
We treasure this opportunity to connect with you! This issue features an interview with Tonya Arndt (Disability Advocate), new resources, and upcoming events.
Recently, we participated in an online Roundtable with disability professionals. It was co-sponsored by our department and Jewish Family Services (JFS). We would like to express our gratitude to Porsche Elkins from JFS for all of her work on this deeply meaningful event!
Twiddles – Still Available!
If you are unfamiliar, Twiddles® are playful activity/comfort aids that help individuals (of all ages) with a range of sensory-related conditions. They are designed to keep hands and minds active and engaged, or soothed and calmed.
If there is an individual in your parish that could benefit from a Twiddle, please contact us through the email at the end of this letter. We will send one to you- free of charge. (While they remain available.)
Finally, if you have ideas for future articles or individuals to interview for Together, please let us know! To share your thoughts, please contact  Lisa Wagner-Carollo, Deaf and Disabilities Ministries Coordinator,, (816) 659-8262.
In Christ,
Lisa Wagner-Carollo, Deaf and Disabilities Ministries Coordinator
& Linda Hopkins, Department Supervisor
Please know that you are in our prayers as you continue to navigate the COVID-19 Crisis.
Tonya Arndt (middle) with Jessica Adkins of Access II (Gallatin) and Representative J. Eggleston
An Interview with Tonya Arndt
Tonya Arndt is a disability advocate living in Trenton, Missouri (Grundy County). She is a speaker and lobbyist (traveling to Washington D.C.) with the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.
Lisa- Can you tell us about yourself? For example, what are three important things we should know about you?
Tonya- “Growing up I moved around a lot. I lived in numerous, different states and part of that was going to a lot of different denominational churches within the Christian Faith.
“So, something that I think is very unique about my childhood, that I really love, is that the moving around gave me this strong desire to just know people. It made me have a lot of respect and just a desire to get to know people –people that were different than me.
And along with that, I think it made me realize that we’re all different, everybody has things that are unique about them, but as humans we’re all pretty equal in that we all just want to be accepted and loved and feel like we belong. So that’s something that I think has had a lot of impact on me, throughout my life, and I don’t know that I would’ve had that if I hadn’t moved around so much.
“When I was about to go into high school, I actually moved here to Missouri to live with my dad, and it would’ve been just a couple weeks short of my senior year, I had a wreck and it gave me a spinal cord injury. I’m a quadriplegic, and as cliché as it sounds, the three most important things for me are my Faith, my family, and my friends. Those are the three things that I know will get me through anything. I had other issues, other challenges, other obstacles in my life before my paralysis that I got through and during those times, it always came to those three things.
“So, a couple of weeks before my senior year I got in that wreck. I think I was 17, and I really thought ‘this is the year I’m going to gain even more independence’ and eventually, graduate, and go on to maybe the military or health care field. Looking back, independence was always huge for me. I was always very independent from a very young age, and instead, with that injury, I found myself more dependent on anybody than since, probably, I was a toddler. And I had actually said to a friend of mine just a few weeks before my wreck, the two of us were having a conversation about ‘things we could handle or overcome.’ And the main thing that came out of my mouth was that I could never handle being in a wheelchair for a long period of time, and it was because of that fear of being dependent on other people.
“I was active in the church, with my Faith, and people would have described me as a Christian (and I was), but because I had my injury it forced me to realize: God has that control. And He always had it. I think I had been very self-reliant, up unto that point. Anyways, that was a big turning point for me.
“Of course, immediately after my wreck, I was like…. ‘okay, I want to live, I want to go on,’ and thankfully I was able to turn to my Faith and totally relied on that, and I didn’t really experience a lot of the anger and that kind of emotion that I hear some people have– because I think I had that Faith and because I had other challenges in my life before that that I had overcome with my Faith, my family, and my friends. That was something I was very thankful for.”
L-How did you become involved in self-advocacy and advocacy for others?
Since September is Suicide Prevention Month, we are grateful to share this important opportunity from the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers:
Mental Health Ministry Grant Funding Now Open
Letters of Interest due September 30, 2020
The Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers (ACMHM) announces seed grants to create or expand mental health ministries within parishes, deaneries, or diocese. The awards begin at $5,000. Larger grants will be given if the proposal demonstrates a compelling purpose and sustainable programming.
Mental health ministry in the Catholic Church is growing because many people see the need for a ministry focused on the spiritual needs of those living with a mental illness and the family members and other people who love and support people living with a mental illness. In 2019 several lay ministers and members of clergy founded the ACMHM to support this growing ministry.
The ACMHM is affiliated with the Institute for Catholic Mental Health Ministry at the University of San Diego, which has funded projects for the training of parish mental health ministers in the Dioceses of Orange, San Jose, San Francisco, and Rapid City.
Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan of the Diocese of San Diego, Chaplain for ACMHM, said, “This is a wonderful opportunity to build up this important ministry in the Church. Pope Francis’s call to accompaniment can never be more on point than when dealing with the reality of mental illness and mental health challenges.”
President of ACMHM, Deacon Ed Shoener of Scranton, PA, said, “My daughter Katie, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, died by suicide in 2016. In her obituary our family openly spoke about her mental illness and death by suicide. Her obituary went viral. That response demonstrated that there is a deep longing for the presence of Christ and his Church in the lives of people living with a mental illness and their families”.
To apply for the grants, see guidelines on the website for the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers at
Only those who submit a letter of interest will be considered for the grant. Letter of interest are due September 30, 2020. Grants will be awarded by December 31, 2020.
ABLE vs Special Needs Trusts: An In-Depth Discussion
As a special needs parent, Kacy Seitz is all-too familiar with the common fears parents may have in learning about the topic of long-term planning for their child. Mother to Hudsyn, her nine year-old daughter who has complex medical needs, Kacy is a financial advisor with her own practice in Kansas City. After six years in the financial services industry, she opened her practice with Northwestern Mutual in 2013 because she had difficulty finding good, sound advice from a variety of professionals who could help her develop a solid plan for her daughter. Her practice continues to grow, and currently serves nearly 500 special needs families in 26 states.
She focuses on helping special needs families with proper financial planning throughout their lifetimes. Her book, Every Now & Then, I Fall Apart: A Mother’s Memoir of Life After a Traumatic Birth is scheduled to be published in 2020.
This brief, online workshop helps parents, guardians and family members to better understand the planning our children may need during all stages of life.
October 7, 2020 12:00 PM CDT
October 20, 2020 6:00 PM CDT
Online – Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph sponsors an online gathering to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every Monday – Thursday at 3:00 PM.
If you would like to receive the link to join the prayer, please contact Lisa Wagner-Carollo at
(Closed Captioning Available)
For the D/deaf & Hard of Hearing
September 20 – St. Peter’s Church
701 E. Meyer Blvd., Kansas City
11:00 AM
September 27 – St. Joseph the Worker Church
2200 N. Blue Mills Road, Independence
11:00 AM
October 4 – St. Elizabeth Church
2 E. 75th Street, Kansas City
10:00 AM
October 11 – St. Thomas More Church
11822 Holmes Road, Kansas City
11:00 AM
October 18 – St. Peter’s Church
701 E. Meyer Blvd., Kansas City
11:00 AM
October 25 – St. Joseph the Worker Church
2200 N. Blue Mills Road, Independence
11:00 AM
All are welcome!
In these uncertain times, this listing is subject to change. Thank you.
Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph
Deaf and Disabilities Ministries Team
4001 Blue Parkway, Suite 250 ● Kansas City, MO 64130 ● 816.221.4377
1123 S. 10th St. ● St. Joseph, MO 64503 ● 816.232.2885


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