To provide faith based services and outreach for the deaf and hard of hearing community within the Diocese of London through education, training and interpretation so that the Good News of Jesus Christ is available to all God’s people.
Trained interpreters for liturgical celebrations and communication with deaf and hard of hearing persons. Provided interpreters for major diocesan liturgical events. Organized social and religious events for deaf and hard of hearing persons. Offered sacramental support, including preparation for the reception of the sacraments. Set standards for services across the diocese and developed supports for specialized retreats and spiritual support. Worked with other established deaf organizations to provide outreach to deaf children/youth in the diocese. Currently, St. Agnes Parish in Chatham, Sacred Heart Parish in Ingersoll, Mary Immaculate Parish in London and St. Theresa Parish in Windsor all offer American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted Masses on a weekly basis.
We were invited to participate in an initiative to provide outreach to children/youth in our diocese to share the gospel using ASL with young people who might not otherwise have the opportunity. Our deaf ministry team has responded impressively to the need presented in our community. A lot of hard work and dedication has resulted in the “Light of Life” Deaf Club, which currently meets once a month at Robarts School for the Deaf.
Support for deaf and hard of hearing in our diocese is developing. Over the past year we have added interpreted masses on a weekly basis in Ingersoll. RCIA has been interpreted in ASL in Kingsville. In addition, we have begun to interpret mass at Parkwood Hospital. ASL classes with a religious foundation continue to be central to our ministry with beginner, intermediate and mass interpreter offerings. Several deaf individuals have assisted deaf ministry by providing ASL instruction to hearing individuals. Consequently, many participants have been able to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing for a variety of purposes in religious and other settings including churches, hospitals, daycares, schools and legal offices.
We have had the opportunity over the past year to participate in some valuable networking initiatives to meet with religious (priests, sisters, deacons, lay persons), interpreters, deaf and hard of hearing working in deaf ministry from various locations in Ontario, throughout Canada and the United States. In essence, we have been able to join forces to pool resources in order to provide support for deaf, hard of hearing and deaf ministry teams for exceptional Catholic events such as mini retreats in specific parishes, a weekend retreat in Ancaster, Ontario and a full day rally in Toronto, Ontario.
Deaf ministry has provided an avenue for deaf and hard of hearing parishioners in the diocese to participate in Masses, RCIA, retreats, conferences, sacraments and additional Catholic events. Deaf in our diocese are signing the readings and gospel in ASL during Mass, serving as Eucharistic ministers, taking part in ASL choirs for Christmas and Easter Masses, teaching ASL, attending social events and retreats, evangelizing to their families and friends and contributing to the life of the Church in many ways. We pray that our ministry will continue to grow to improve access to God’s Word, the Body of Christ in the Eucharist and the Sacraments for our deaf and hard of hearing brothers and sisters.