by Pat Richey
Special to The Leaven
Many years ago when our children were small, our family was attending the Old Settlers celebration in Olathe.
While cradling the baby in my arms, holding the hand of our toddler and attempting to shepherd our other two, I noticed my shoe was untied. At the same moment, my deaf friend walked up. She saw my predicament and immediately knelt before me to tie my shoe. She was completely focused on helping me. It seemed as if nothing was more important at that moment except to serve me. I was deeply moved and humbled.
During my 30 years of working with the deaf, they have exemplified the true meaning of being the servant to others. In the past, the majority of deaf had no affiliation to church. The reasons are many and diverse. Deafness was seen as an illness and a handicap. The Catholic Church was not accessible to our deaf brothers and sisters. The faith was not passed down, sacraments were not received, and the knowledge of being members of God’s family was lost.
I am happy to say that our understanding of deafness as a language — and, more importantly, as a culture — has grown. Methods of communicating and teaching have improved. Most importantly, we now realize working with the deaf, not for them, is key to success. Doors once closed are opening. Donations to the Archbishop’s Call to Share make the faith accessible to our deaf community.
The familiar image of Jesus, the servant, washing the feet of Peter is my favorite. I try to keep this image before me at all times. Working with the deaf has made it easy.
These are some of the services made possible through your generous donation to the Archbishop’s Call to Share:
Assist persons deaf or hard of hearing in realizing God’s presence in their lives through:
• Signed and interpreted liturgies
• Sacramental preparation
• Annual retreats
• Arranging for interpreters for holy occasions – baptisms, weddings, funerals, and other events when requested
Provide ongoing educational opportunities through:
• Adult religious education
• Bible study groups
• Religious education for students attending the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe
• Assistance to teachers and/or parents of deaf students involved in parish programs
Provide support and assistance through:
• Pastoral visitation to homes
• Support and referral services
• Visits to the sick, shut-ins, and hospitalized
• Awareness programs about deafness
• Interpreter workshop