Here is a great video about the subject matter of Word & Sign. This little Deaf parish in NY, St. Elizabeth’s, is petitioning the Pope himself in order to keep from closing for budgetary reasons. Look at them, how beautiful they are in their sign language Mass and choir! If the Deaf can’t come first in their own historically Deaf parish, what does the gospel mean to the Archdiocese of NY? Must the larger, richer parish down the street always run the show and sweep these devout, long-suffering people into some kind of second-class, off-schedule, “charitable” service?
You can find more comments from the reporter at the Huff Post online, here.
I recently came across the vlog of Fr. Yanes Augustin Valer, the Spanish deaf priest born in 1929 in Cuba and ordained in 1967. That makes him 85 years old and 46 years a priest! Here is his homily from the 16th Sunday in Ordinary time. Fr. Valer posts a homily every Sunday, just like Fr. Mike Depcik does in the U.S. Fr. Valer’s homily seems to be in singed Spanish, as he is voicing while he signs. I wonder how much of his homily ASL users could understand? I think the signs are very similar to ASL, and the movements and facial expressions basically the same as ours. I so wish I could meet him.
Deacon Patrick, an ASL poet and actor, joined the National Theatre of the Deaf in 1967. He has taught at the National Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology. His acting skill and understanding of audience contribute to a strong, expressive delivery in preaching. Here he begins his homily with an example about a selfish customer in a mattress store who annoys the patient salesman by trying out every bed in the store. By the visual and spatial nature of ASL, good examples and and stories become what ancient rhetors called enargeia–the use of visual imagery to make the subject vividly present to the audience. In Patrick Graybill’s hands, visual enactment of an example also conveys a sense of vigor and energy. In this case, it’s the feeling of being vigorously annoyed and needing a way to accept people who are a pain in the neck with peace, even in the course of everyday hassles.