Deborah Davis

Author Credentials

Sister Deborah Davis

Date of Award


Document Type

Research Paper

Superseded Degree Name

Master of Arts in Special Education, in Mental Retardation

Colleges & School

Cardinal Stritch College

Degree Granted By

Cardinal Stritch College

First Advisor

Sister Coletta Dunn, O.S.F.

Library of Congress Subject Heading

Special education; Religious education; People with disabilities--Religious life; Learning disabilities; Initiation rites--Religious aspects--Catholic Church


God touches our lives and moves in mysterious ways. After having worked with severely and profoundly retarded persons in both catechetical and worship settings, the writer has noted some phenomenal changes in some of these persons during catechisms and liturgical celebrations, especially Eucharistic Liturgies. Such changes were observed by several volunteer catechists and other catechists form varying programs serving profoundly develop­mentally disabled persons. These changes include apparent decreases in drooling, having seizures, and self-injurious behaviors. Also observed was a perceptible increase of head raising, eye contact, and attending behaviors. These behavioral changes were noted because of their significant differences to behaviors exhibited during other parts of the day. These changes have catechists assessing the power of catechetical or worship experiences for accomplishing these changes. The purpose of this study was to derive from the findings in behavioral psychology and philosophy some notions for these phenomena. A review of the literature was made to help answer the following questions. 1. To what can these changes (i.e. behavioral changes in profoundly developmentally disabled persons during prayer and catechetical experiences) be attributed? 2. What implications does this have for catechetical and worship times? 3. What structural and programmatic considerations must catechists take into account in meeting the spiritual needs of the profoundly develop­mentally disabled person?


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OCLC Number


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