Thursday, October 14, 2010

AUSTRALIA: NEW CATHOLIC INITIATIVE FOR THE DEAF


Cath News report: The Australian Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life has established a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Committee to facilitate the inclusion of people who are deaf and hard of hearing in church communities by the training of priests in sign language and greater use of interpreters at Mass.
This is a step forward, as most Australian dioceses have zero resources to cater for Catholics with these disabilities, let alone the myriad of other disabilities many Catholics have.
But problems abound as to the practicality of catering for people who are deaf and hard of hearing whose disabilities are as individual as they are.
Beyond WA, Sydney’s Ephpheta Catholic Centre for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people services Sydney, Broken Bay and Parramatta. While it is well supported by Sydney Cardinal George Pell and specialises in signing for the deaf, it does not have expertise in catering for the hard of hearing.
Melbourne has the John Pierce Centre for Deaf Ministry, which services Victoria by dealing in Auslan, “our natural language”.
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Committee was launched on September 29 by the Australian Bishops’ Commission for Pastoral Life.
The committee, consisting of Emmanuel coordinator Barbara Harris and Fr Paul Pitzen, Ephpheta’s official translator Nicole Clark as chair, Ms Danni Wright and John Pierce Centre executive manager Rebecca Miller, will have monthly teleconferences and will meet face to face on November 3-4 in Melbourne.
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Committee will address barriers to inclusion and participation in the Church experienced by people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
A new Youtube clip has been posted on the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference website in which Danni Wright, part-time community worker at Sydney’s Ephpheta Catholic centre for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, signs the content of the press release announcing the new Committee.

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