HARTFORD – Of the 40 students who received the sacrament of confirmation on April 26 at St. Timothy Church in West Hartford, six were from the parish's deaf ministry, which works in conjunction with the American School for the Deaf. This was the first time in six years that the sacrament was administered to deaf young adults.
All the readings were simultaneously signed and vocalized by the confirmandi during the Mass.
Auxiliary Bishop Christie Macaluso, celebrant of the Mass, was delighted to see the confirmation students, both those who can hear and cannot hear, their sponsors, families and faculty sign and sing the “Alleluia” during the liturgy.
“It was moving to see two groups of people coming together to receive the sacrament of confirmation and responding in unique ways. One group signed the ‘Alleluias’ and the other sang them, yet they were united in their commitment to their faith,” said Bishop Macaluso.
The high number of deaf students is a sign that St. Timothy is once again taking the lead in providing religious education to people within the deaf community, said Deacon Dennis Ferguson of St. Timothy. He said that after the death of Sister of Mercy Maura Joseph Rose in August 2007 and, 11 months later, of Msgr. Robert D. Bergin, whom he called “two giants in the deaf ministry,” no one was equipped to fill the void.
For more than three decades, the two had provided hundreds of young people with religious education using sign language.
Deacon Ferguson said that over the past few years, several parishioners have become active in revitalizing the deaf ministry at the urging of Father Henry Cody, pastor of St. Timothy, who has been promoting the need for assistance in this area.
“The word is spreading that St. Timothy is a welcoming parish with a signed Mass each week, and the deaf community is responding,” said Deacon Ferguson.
He was quick to point out that Harford has been in the forefront of deaf education since the founding of the American School for the Deaf, the first in the country, in 1817. He said that he is encouraged by the resurgence that is taking place.
All of the deaf students who were confirmed also participated in two retreats that included fully integrated activities for deaf and hearing students, according to the deacon.
“It was wonderful to see all the students interacting with one another and exchanging email addresses when the retreats were over,” said Deacon Ferguson. “There is no doubt that meaningful relationships began during these retreats.”
Information about the deaf ministry is available from Deacon Ferguson at (860) 965-0157 or email@example.com.