GIA is proud to partner with Catholic Theological Union as a host site for a ministry practicum this semester. Each graduate student is placed in a different ministerial assignment (such as collaborating with a pastoral staff in parish or in a hospital as a chaplain) for one semester to offer 8-10 hours per week in order to get an idea of ministerial life and offer practical application of the invaluable education in which they are immersed. Our first student partner is David Gayes from Evanston, IL. Look out for his writing in our GIA Quarterly, Soundboard and our social media outlets. His primary focus in ministry is as a Disability Rights Activist, and we’re so looking forward to the ways his wisdom will help us think more critically about accessibility and ableism within the work of music ministry. Welcome David!

“While our Christian tradition teaches that all are created in the divine image, do our interpretations of sacred texts betray an option for physical and mental ‘wholeness’; as hidden criteria for the Imago Dei.”

These are powerful words from theologian Carmen Nanko-Fernandez and they resonate deeply with me. Upon first reading them as a Spanish major at Dominican University ten years ago, I was prompted to a re-thinking, a re-aligning of my vocation. I am a person of faith; I am disabled – both are central to my identity. Yet, the struggle to be portrayed accepted and represented as part of the Imago Dei is real one, one that almost every disabled person can attest to. Currently, I am obtaining a Masters in Intercultural Ministry at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago to delve more deeply into the relationship between disability culture and disability theology. Through writing and dialogue, I invite the GIA community to engage with lived disabled experiences and perspectives in thought-provoking ways. I hope my contributions will enable the GIA community to more fully integrate disabled perspectives in their liturgical and music vocations. I am also a Disability Lead Fellow, and an active member of St. Nicholas Parish in Evanston, Illinois.

–David Gayes