About Uniquely Catholic
We believe all baptized people, especially individuals with disabilities, are members of and belong within the Body of Christ.
We believe the Body of Christ is more fully recognized and whole when individuals with disabilities are welcomed, have a sense of belonging, and feel invited into shared ownership within faith communities.
We believe lives and parishes are transformed through an intentional process of integration with the various disability communities.
We believe parish leaders need to have support and guidance available throughout this process.
Uniquely Catholic equips leaders and promotes the wholeness of the Body of Christ through integration of disability communities within all aspects of parish life.
We advocate for and support individuals and families from various disability and neurodivergent communities in their faith journey, especially as a member of a church community.
Disabilities include developmental, learning, intellectual, in addition to physical.
See Important Notes Down Below
The Meaning Behind the Logos
The multiple colors of the leaves on the tree in the left logo and the orange-pink-red mosaic in the right logo represents the diversity within the Body of Christ. The key is a symbol of the Catholic Church from Matthew 16:17-19. The tree is another representation of the uniqueness, yet interconnectedness of each person within the Body of Christ and, therefore, the Church.
Thanks to Jessica Connolly of Telos Design, LLC for the beautiful designs.
Hi! My name is Lindsey West and I’m so grateful and honored you’re here at Uniquely Catholic.
I’ve been the lost sheep, the prodigal child. I’ve been the one who felt like they didn’t belong and walked away. After my re-version and coming back to the loving arms of God, I’ve felt a passionate calling to ensure that no one feels like they don’t belong, especially within the Body of Christ. This calling began in parish youth ministry in 2004 and continues to this day with Uniquely Catholic.
Even though I finished a Master’s degree in Systematic Theology, the most important thing I can offer is that I’ve probably been in your shoes at some point. I’ve been the youth minister, director of religious education, volunteer, parish staff member, etc. who was doing their best for God’s people and God’s glory. I’m also a mom within the autism community. Having been in both worlds, I see that there’s often a HUGENORMOUS (as my son would say) gap in many parishes that leads to individuals and families leaving the Church or abandoning their relationship with God altogether. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to try and go through life’s struggles without God, but I feel the urgency any person would feel if their brothers or sisters were lost, hurt, and missing out on the life-changing love that comes from a relationship with God within the Church. Why lose any of the flock when we can build a bridge between the gap? That’s what Uniquely Catholic is for – helping parish communities and disability communities come together in a meaningful way that promotes not just welcome, but belonging, and a sense of ownership that respects individuals with disabilities and meets them where they’re at.
Since my son’s autism diagnosis in mid-2015, you could say that there as been an “autism metanoia” and so my passion became thinking, presenting, and building bridges that bring interculturation within parishes and the autism community (both autistic individuals and their families). So, I began Uniquely Catholic as a simple blog in April 2017, with hopes of a future in which parishes, individuals, and families alike would be supported in their faith journeys and participation in parish life. After launching Uniquely Catholic, I came to the realization that the research and work I was doing on integration of the autism community in parishes had applicability and was needed in all areas of neurodifferences and disabilities.
Phew. If you couldn’t tell already, “passionate” is one of the words I hear used to describe me most often. In addition to passionately pursuing this mission God has placed on my heart, I’m a wife and mom, striving for holiness in the messiness of life. I love playing music (both drums and guitar), becoming a better backyard chicken keeper, and enjoying coffee everyday. I’m also what my grandmother used to call a Jill-of-all-trades, taking on new skills and projects like building our chicken coop (which could probably be on an HGTV show about tricked-out chicken coops) and a sensory, obstacle course a la “American Ninja Warrior”-ish (still a work in progress).
Some Important Notes
- Many or most #actuallyautistic people prefer identity-first language (autistic person or autist). Some don’t. The Catholic Church always sees the person first as a child of God and so would tend to use person-first language (person with autism). We want to respect the intentions of both schools of thought and so we tend to use what we feel is a bit of a middle ground: person on the autism spectrum. That can get cumbersome to write and so we do slip back and forth between person-first and identity-first language with, probably, a heavier emphasis towards identity-first language.
- ASD is a very broad term used to describe individuals with diverse neurology and diverse ways of processing the world. This means that even the most helpful or insightful posts on this blog can never substitute getting to know each and every individual person (both neurodiverse and neurotypical [which means, non-ASD]) for who they are and who God created them to be.
- Please be kind, respectful, ask questions, and engage in dialogue; it’s how we all become more aware and loving of every member of the Body of Christ.