The Deaf Community have a great deal to offer and there is much we can learn from them. Sign language at Mass is essential for those profoundly Deaf people who use sign language to communicate so that they are included and are able to share their gifts and talents with the wider Catholic community. We are blessed in Westminster that there are eight priests whom we can call upon and who have learned to sign Mass and provide the Deaf community with access to the sacraments.
Recently the majority of the group met together for a training day led by Pat Chandler, a Deaf woman trained as a sign language tutor. On this occasion we concentrated on the sign language required visiting a Deaf person in hospital and administrating the sacrament of the sick.
For many Deaf people hospital is a very lonely and difficult place to be. Interpreters are not always provided even for complicated medical issues, and the pastoral support Deaf people receive in hospital can be vary greatly.
Ministry with the Deaf community is very rewarding and sign language, as well as being the language for the Deaf community, can add to the prayerful focus of the Mass. We are looking for more priests and deacons to join this group, to learn sign language and to help this ministry to grow.
Bishop Paul McAleenan and Canon Shaun Lennard also sign Mass regularly for the Deaf community and support us in many ways but were unable to join us on the day.
For more information please contact Shell Roca, Caritas Deaf Service at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07779 341136.