At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas, Fr. Richard Rinn, CSV, Pastor, carried out the traditional washing of the feet during the Mass. He asked four parishioners to participate, including 6th grader Amanda Hodges.

Fr. Richard Rinn washes the feet of Amanda Hodges.

The act of washing the feet reflects how Jesus humbled himself at the Last Supper, by washing the feet of his disciples. It is seen as an act of humility embodied in servant leadership, but in this instance, the act embodied inclusion.

“Those of us in attendance were truly touched by this spirit of inclusion in our parish life,” said Dr. Katie Kiss, Principal of St. Viator School. “We didn’t know he had asked her, and we were so moved by this.”

Amanda has attended St. Viator Parish School since kindergarten. By all accounts she has blossomed in its Micah 6:8 Program. The program — the only inclusive program of its kind at a Catholic school in the state of Nevada — takes its lead from the Book of Micah, in the Old Testament: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Principal Katie Kiss drives Amanda around the school campus on World Down Syndrome Day.

School officials say that as a result of students in the Micah 6:8 Program being included and involved in all aspects of the school, St. Viator students are caring and accepting.

“Even at a young age students are aware and understanding that we are more alike than different, and that being different is why God created us all special,” says Mrs. Angela Sligar, special education teacher in the Micah Program.

Fr. Rinn agrees and adds that when they started the program — with a grant from the Viatorian Community — he assumed they were doing something special to help the Micah children. He quickly learned otherwise.

“Ten years later we learned the Micah Children did something for us,” Fr. Rinn says. “Our students are more aware and more accepting, more generous with care and compassion.”