Many of us who travel on pilgrimages are used to hearing the priest celebrating Mass in holy shrines around the world, listening to local guides explain various sites, and enjoying the sounds of a new location. But what if you are deaf? To be honest, we never considered it before….and yet there are many Catholics who are deaf.
So, do they miss out on much of the pilgrimage? Yes, presumably they do.
Unless, of course, you could go on a pilgrimage led by a priest who is deaf himself, and uses sign language as he celebrates Mass.
Pretty long odds that you could find one, unless it happens to be Father Michael Depcik, who is actually deaf himself, and who currently ministers to deaf Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Here is a link to his story. And here is his blog.
And probably even longer odds that he would be accompanied by a religious sister who also knew English sign language. But, again, they beat the odds with Sister Kathleen Monica Schipani, the Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Persons with Disabilities and the Deaf Apostolate and who is an expert in signing.
Here is a link to Sister Kathleen’s story.
And……..then we found a pilgrimage offered by Select International Tours which has both of them leading the group.
Unfortunately, even though it is not until October 2019, we have been told that it is already sold out! But we found the story so interesting that we wanted to share it with you anyway, and hopefully there will be more pilgrimages for the deaf in the future.
As we said, we never had considered the difficulty a deaf person might have in fully participating in a pilgrimage..or in the life of the Church in general.