Pope Francis
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Accessible and Welcoming to All

“Inclusivity” and “welcome” are two words deeply rooted in the values of The Basilica community. In this time of uncertainty, the value of our welcome is of even greater importance. We hear the calling of welcome throughout scripture and also in modern messages from Pope Francis.

It is a trademark of our parish. While you hear the words, “Whatever brings you here, and wherever you are on our faith journey, you are welcome,” it would be empty if it was simply rhetoric. It needs to be experienced in many forms, from the way volunteers interact with those seeking assistance at our Rectory door, to our programs and ministries. 

It’s in our actions. On a Sunday afternoon in January, University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs fellows shared their experiences working with refugees from Syria, the Philippines, and Afghanistan. It’s in interfaith programming, extending welcome and open doors to those of different faith backgrounds. These types of informative sessions promote greater understanding and empathy, and help to clarify a call to action.

Inclusivity is even felt by those experiencing the architecture as the array of cultural diversity in our faith can be admired in the artwork and chapels throughout The Basilica. 
At a time when many feel and experience marginalization and exclusion, The Basilica will continue to strive to be a place for hope and refuge. This includes those with physical disabilities. 

The Basilica Landmark plans to enhance our extension of welcome in improving the physical accessibility of our historic campus. Each bronze door of The Basilica church weighs more than 300 pounds, making it a challenge for anyone to open these doors when the wind is blowing. It is nearly impossible to open the doors when you have a physical disability. 

The Basilica’s Disability Awareness Committee has been working since 2005 to address objectives in making The Basilica free of barriers to prayer and involvement.
The Basilica’s facilities committee has received their request for an additional handicap access point and they are pleased to be able to respond. The Basilica Landmark Board has determined the “Fund A Need” program will include several projects that will significantly improve access to the church. Currently, the only handicapped access point is from 17th Street at the front entrance. This proves challenging to those who utilize the lot designated as Handicap parking. The doors facing 16th Street will be outfitted with accessibility hardware. This will add a second accessible entrance to our historic building. Even when a barrier is unintentional, it can alter the offering of hospitality and message of inclusivity that The Basilica values. 

As a staff member and member of The Basilica parish, I’m grateful to belong to a parish that continues to “seek the well-being of the city” through both concrete and programmatic priorities. 

The Basilica Landmark Ball will be held on May 20 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Tickets will be available here or calling by 612.317.3432.

If you would like to support the “Fund A Need” project for this year’s event, please contact me at ehjelm@mary.org. Your gift will continue to foster the extension of inclusivity for all who visit our historic campus.


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