A new sacrament formation program for the deaf and hard of hearing is offering adult catechetical information in American Sign Language.
Designed by Ascension Press, Hands of Grace: The Catholic Sacraments in American Sign Language became available earlier this year. It was developed by Father Sean Loomis, the chaplain for the Deaf Apostolate for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Creators of the new project hope the materials, designed specifically for the deaf community, can fill in gaps left by other catechetical programs and address some of the unique challenges faced by the hearing impaired, who may struggle with participating in Mass, Confession, and the Catholic community.
“A huge challenge among the deaf is that they are very uncatechized, and while that is certainly the case with the vast majority of Catholics, that catechesis is impoverished in a significant way” for those who are deaf, Loomis told CNA.
“Most deaf people at this point aren’t even interested. They already feel turned off,” he said. “So like 1% of deaf people even go to church because they feel like the church of any denomination really has nothing to offer them.”
The new project offers three-part videos on each sacrament. Each segment is about 6-10 minutes long, and together they discuss the presence of the sacrament in scripture and tradition, the theology of the sacrament, and the sacrament’s personal significance.
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