Our History

Fr. Robert F. Wagner Celebration Center

JERICHO, The Bureau for Exceptional Children & Adults is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in the late 1960's by Father Robert F. Wagner and Sr. Joan Magnani, ssj.  Both recognized the critical need for religious education classes and services for people with special needs in Western Massachusetts, and through their work brought new awareness and previously unavailable support to those often ignored families and individuals. As the congregation grew, so did the programs and services.

Over the years, thousands of families have benefitted from the programs, support and many services JERICHO has provided to individuals and families living with disability here in Western Mass.  From our famous dances to special events, from trainings for all to group travel opportunities, or from religious education to parent support, JERICHO works diligently to remove the barriers for full inclusion for the disabled population throughout our community.  Many families who participated in the initial offerings of JERICHO have gone on to define and establish the vital programs, agencies and services now providing for those with different abilities.

The organization moved to its present location of 537 Northampton St, Holyoke, MA in the late 1970's. JERICHO continued with its wide range of activities for people with disabilities, their families, friends, and advocates adding theater opportunities, employment training, square dances, pilgrimages, and many levels of religious education both in-house, and in many parishes of the diocese.

Fast forward to the 2010's and JERICHO is addressing a new critical need in the area, that of transitional information resources for differently-abled teens and young adults as they journey to a successful adulthood.  This challenging time for young adults and families is compounded for those with special needs - however not unsurmountable when everyone is focused and working together!

In the coming years JERICHO will expand services to parents and family members. We will provide assistance in understanding the multitude of services that are available throughout the region and the state, and help connect the private and public sectors, so that all are able to successfully navigate the many stages of life and achieve full integration.

JERICHO will continue its mission of breaking down the walls preventing full access for all. Religious services and education will remain a core provision, and the organization will always welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds in everything we do.

Our mission is to bring dignity, respect, and wholeness into the lives of people living with disabilities and their families, and to fully integrate all people with disabilities into society.