While on pilgrimage this spring, Joel and I attended the Beatification Mass for Blessed Pope John Paul II in the piazza outside St. Peter’s Basilica. Much of the Mass was spoken in Latin, a language I don’t speak. Some other parts were said in Italian, some Polish, and even a little English thrown in at times.
Worship aids for the Mass were made available in a variety of languages including English. Throughout the entire celebration, even though I couldn’t speak most of the language, I could hear and pickup enough to follow along well. The Vatican even pre-released the transcript of Pope Benedict’s homily in a few languages so the non-Italian speaking world could follow along.
I was so grateful for that worship aid.
Imagine sitting through Mass without the ability to hear even a single word. It’s the reality for a fellow parishioner and dear friend whose son is profoundly deaf. Where I was able to fully participate in that Mass thanks to a worship aid translated in my native tongue, my friend’s son hasn’t been able to experience an equivalent accommodation. Throughout the greater community here, not one Mass is translated in his language, American Sign Language (ASL), on an ongoing or regular basis.
As my friend has explored options and available resources, she has discovered the evangelical church no more than 500 yards from our parish provides an ASL interpreter during one service each weekend and during some religious education programs. Many non-Catholic friends have suggested that she simply walk across the street with her family and make a new home there.
Not an option.
She wants to raise her son Catholic, to pass on our rich faith and allow him to participate in and receive the sacraments. As welcoming as the neighboring church may be to the deaf, walking across the street to that church is an unsatisfactory solution.
At this point, we are simply trying to gather information so my friend can begin networking with other Catholics in a similar situation. She would like to learn from others, especially from parishes/dioceses that have provided accommodations for deaf Catholics. If you have any experience attending an ASL-interpreted Mass or religious education programs, please share your experiences. You can provide input in the comment box below or email me directly through our Contact Page. I will be sure to pass on all comments.