Msgr. Paul Dougherty at St. Margaret in Narberth is among a small group of clergy who are celebrating mass in ASL for deaf congregates, writes Lou Baldwin for the Catholic Philly.
The reason for the slow inclusion of the deaf community is its relatively small size and the fact that relatively few priests know their language. Usually, during mass, a priest is celebrating and preaching in English while a hearing partner translates his words into ASL.
Dougherty, however, does not need an interpreter. He and the chaplain/coordinator of the apostolate, Father Sean Loomis at Annunciation B.V.M. in Havertown, are assisted by Deacon William Griffin, a permanent deacon who is himself deaf.
They help celebrate mass the way deaf people who consider ALS their native language prefer to experience it.
“All the church can do is work with the Deaf Community in a way they feel comfortable,” said Loomis.
And while neither of their deaf congregations is large, they emphasize that the number of participants is not important.
“It is really following the words of St. John Paul II about the need to have a missionary heart,” said Loomis.
Read more about St. Margaret at the Catholic Philly by clicking here.