Together again: Deaf Community Mass resumes
FORT WORTH — It’s not unusual to linger after Mass for a few minutes to talk with friends, but for three hours? When the deaf community gathered for their monthly Mass on June 6, they visited until the lights were off, three hours later.
Community Mass for the deaf resumed May 2, after being halted in April 2020 because of coronavirus precautions.
David Cassanova, the deaf Mass coordinator, said, “It’s wonderful and inspiring to see people — people were happy to be together and that made me happy and motivated. We want to get more people to come to our Deaf Community Mass get involved and grow our community. Although some people are still nervous to get together because of Covid-19, more and more people will come out and join us as time goes on. It is exciting."
He continued, "Being a reader and signing ASL for the Deaf Community to understand better always gives me a feeling that I am doing good for other people!"
Father Ken Robinson celebrated the Mass at St. Rita Church in Fort Worth.
Connie Martin, coordinator of deaf ministry and special needs services, explained the pandemic was especially difficult for the deaf community, which already experiences isolation.
Furthermore, masks make lip reading impossible and obscure facial expressions.
However, from the beginning of the pandemic Bishop Michael Olson has scheduled sign language interpretation for the livestream Mass from St. Patrick Cathedral each Sunday. The livestreams of the Easter Triduum and priestly ordination Mass were also interpreted for the deaf.
“The bishop has been so supportive,” said Martin, who made home visits to members of the deaf community early in the pandemic to reassure them.
“If we didn’t reach out, the deaf would be forgotten, pushed aside. We have to pull them in, and it changes their lives. The spiritual benefit makes a difference,” she continued.
Deaf Ministry also provides sign language interpretation for religious education, sacramental preparation, and other services as requested.
The Knights of Columbus provide financial support for deaf ministry.