Dear Ms. Bennett,
I fervently hope that this article signals genuine interest on the part of the Diocese of Trenton, in reaching out to its Deaf brothers and sisters.
- Recognize that reaching out to our Deaf brothers and sisters requires enormously more than an offer of coffee and doughnuts after Mass. This is a group of people who have long and shamefully been ignored. Tremendous outreach efforts are needed to Deaf people and their families.
- Adopt appropriate guidelines for working with sign language interpreters, such as those adopted by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Oftentimes, the simplest courtesies toward interpreters at Masses are ignored, such as speaking at a rate appropriate for sign language interpretation.
- While Canon Law does allow for the use of a sign language interpreter in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that certainly doesn't strike me as an adequate substitute for a priest who is fluent in American Sign Language. I hope that I am wrong, but I know of no such priest actively engaged in ministry in New Jersey. Priests need to be trained in American Sign Language.
- Provide appropriate assistance to parents for the religious instruction of their Deaf children. Many times, that will even include helping parents to communicate with their children.
- Be certain that video material shown at Sunday Masses is text-accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing people.
- Promote appropriate catechetical material for Deaf people of all ages, including marriage preparation material and natural family planning instruction.
- Acknowledge the tremendous generosity toward the Diocese and the Deaf community, which was bestowed by the late Ellen Everett and the late Kay Cusack (See below.).
P.S. On 4/22/07, the below posting was submitted to the Monitor and the Times of Trenton. As far as I know, it was NEVER published by the Monitor