Reaching out

Minister takes youth catechism to video

Tom Racunas is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan special-needs ministry. He can be reached by email at:

by Tom Racunas

Sometimes on the news, we see an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter translating the words of a governor who is warning the public about a crisis or impending weather disaster.

Why? Because, just like you and me, people who are deaf must have access to accurate and timely information so that they, too, can be aware of the impending danger and take necessary steps to prepare in order to keep themselves and their families safe from possible devastation.

To do otherwise, to ignore them, to not get the message to them, to not consider them a part of the community in which they live and work, would be a great injustice.

As members of the mystical body of Christ, our deaf brothers and sisters need access to the good news of the Gospel in order to keep their souls and the souls of their families safe.

Yet, we know that 96% of the deaf community is unchurched because they don’t have access.

For over 25 years, thanks to your continued generous contributions to the Archbishop’s Call to Share, our archdiocese has been blessed with a ministry dedicated to outreach and support of deaf Catholics.

Five parishes have an interpreted Mass almost every Sunday of the month. A signed Mass is offered in two parishes once a month.

Katie Locus, the consultant for deaf archdiocesan ministry, works tirelessly to provide faith formation and sacramental preparation to the deaf community.

However, two documents of the church fundamental to our growth and understanding of the faith — the holy Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church — are not easily accessible because, for a person who has never heard the spoken word, reading and comprehension are very difficult.

Katie is on a mission to change that! She had the idea to translate the Youth Catechism (YOUCAT), which is written in simpler language, into ASL.

In doing so, she put together a team that is creating an amazing tool that can better equip all of us to understand and explain our faith to others.

You may recall the article in the July 19 Leaven titled “Archdiocese hosts national team translating the youth catechism.” At the time of the article, the team was beginning to film and edit the first few of the 527 questions of the catechism.

Eight video segments (each about five minutes long) are now on YouTube! Each video is voiced, captioned and signed. Each answer is profound in its simplicity.

I encourage you to go to the website here. You will be captivated, blessed, renewed.

You will want to reach out to others and encourage them to watch. You will look forward to the remaining 509 questions!

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Tom Racunas

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