Deaf Catholics feel frustrated, seek spiritual help

By John Lavenburg: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Anna Wade often sits in a church pew on Sunday and “kind of spaces out a little bit” until it’s time for communion, and then, she said, “that’s it.”

Wade’s lack of attention, though, has nothing to do with the Mass itself. It’s because she’s deaf, and the church she attends doesn’t have an American Sign Language interpreter – a problem she said exists throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, where she lives, and a problem that others say exists in dioceses and churches across the country.

“I feel frustrated because I need spiritual support, but it’s not there,” Wade told Crux. “At the church, it just doesn’t give me any inspiration or anything. I just feel like it’s a decline of my feeling and my connection with the church because of that.”

Wade said that she persists in attending Mass because she “wants to have communion with Jesus.”

The National Catholic Office for the Deaf estimates that 96 percent of deaf Catholics in the United States are unchurched. The homepage of the organization’s website lists 14 Sunday Masses and one Saturday Mass that have an ASL interpreter and are available to livestream.

Father Mike Depcik, a deaf priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit who ministers to deaf Catholic communities nationwide, told Crux that there’s a correlation between those two statistics, explaining that the lack of accessibility in churches for deaf Catholics leads many in the deaf community to leave the church.

“The deaf need a priest who knows [ASL],” Depcik said. “Most dioceses do not have priests for the deaf, so the deaf don’t have general access to the sacraments.”

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