by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Church ministry was not “Plan A” for Katie Locus, the new archdiocesan consultant for deaf ministry.
“This job is not something I’ve wanted to do all my life since I was a kid,” said Locus.
But when she saw the job posting, it gave her pause. And when it was offered to her?
“I really felt that God was calling me to it,” she said, “and how do you say no to God?”
“I’m so grateful that I followed it,” added Locus, who succeeds Pat Richey in the ministry, “because since I began this job, I’ve felt such a peace and a joy, and that lets me know I’m doing the right thing.”
Locus, who was born deaf, was raised in Austin, Texas. She is the second of four children in her family. Her parents, both doctors, didn’t discover she was deaf until she was eight months old.
Her parents investigated different ways to communicate, so when Locus went to the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin at age 4, all the members of her family began to learn American Sign Language at the school, too. Locus, the only deaf person in her family, also taught her younger siblings how to sign.
“Unfortunately, my situation is rather rare,” said Locus. “Ninety-six or 97 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents, and maybe five percent of those families learn to sign with their child.”
She was also fortunate that her home parish was across the street from the Texas School for the Deaf, and her catechist was a deaf deacon. She grew up without a priest who could sign, but received the sacraments with the aid of an interpreter.
“We are strong Catholics,” said Locus. “My parents were very involved. And they taught us from the beginning about God, and who he is, and [that] we need to serve him.”
After Locus left the Texas School for the Deaf, she went to Westlake High School, where she was the only deaf person, and then on to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a college of the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. There, she earned a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical communication in 2009, and a master’s in deaf education in 2011.
Locus next began her “dream job,” a career in education as a middle school and high school English teacher at the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe.
“My third year [of teaching] I noticed that I was missing something in my job,” she said. “I loved teaching — English is my passion, and I love to teach — but I couldn’t talk about God with my students, and it was really frustrating. I couldn’t teach them about what was really important in life — about morals, about values, about serving God that leads to true happiness.”
Locus began spiritual direction and became more deeply involved in her parish. She also went on a mission trip to the Bahamas.
“I felt so close to God during that time,” said Locus. “It was such an incredible experience. And from that, I realized I really wanted a job where I could fully serve God — more than what I was doing as teacher — but I just wasn’t sure how to do that.”
When she returned, Locus went on a retreat.
“I felt so called by God, and [told myself] no matter what God calls me to do, I will say yes,” said Locus. “I’m just going to be fully open to where God wants me at this point in my life.”
The same day that Locus was turned down for doctoral studies, a friend told her that the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas was looking for a new consultant for deaf ministry.
Everyone she knew told her to apply. It seemed to be a sign from God, so she did. She interviewed and was offered the job.
In the months and years ahead, Locus wants to improve the involvement of the deaf in archdiocesan events. She also wants to improve awareness by hearing people on how to interact with the deaf.
“I want [deaf Catholics] to know about what service opportunities are available, and I’d love to have service opportunities once a month so the deaf community can get involved in serving and giving back to the community,” said Locus.
Locus would also like to host monthly gatherings for young adults so they can explore their faith and their spirituality — and much more.
“I want to meet people who have deaf kids and make sure the kids are receiving sacramental preparation, and the families and kids are involved in their faith and community,” she said.
For more information on deaf ministry in the archdiocese or to reach Locus, send an email to: deafministry@arch kck.org, or call, by videophone, (913) 324-5378.