Deaf People and the Filipino Catholic Faith
Even though I openly profess, based on my previous posts that I am a Born-again Christian and belongs to a Bible Baptist denomination, I hold very high respect to the Catholic Christian faith and their faithfuls. Our country has nearly 80% of the population who follows the Papal authority in Rome. I have many relatives from both sides who are devout Catholics. I even had an Aunt who is a nun. I also had an opportunity to interpret in Catholic church weddings although I’m not used to their rituals.
After reading the blog of Fr Seán Coyle, a Catholic priest serving the deaf people from Bacolod City in the island of Negros Occidental, I found out about St. Francis De Sales the Patron Saint of the Deaf and Hearing-impaired. It was very much an interesting read because in 1605, St. Francis took care and gave education to an indigent young man named Martin, a deaf-mute from birth. The man came almost daily to a house in Roche, France, where Bishop de Sales was staying, to ask for alms. He was a strong young man fit for all kinds of work, and the Bishop’s housekeeper often allowed him to help her in payment for the Bishop’s generosity.
I have not met Fr. Coyle personally because of our difference in religious affiliation. But I would definitely like to meet him if given a chance. He has made many remarkable missionary work for the deaf people in Bacolod. He truly is God’s man especially for those who can’t hear. 🙂
In the research made by Dr. Liza Martinez and Mr. Rafaelito Abat, it was the Spanish priest Fr. Ramon Del Prado, who arrived at the island of Leyte who first used sign language as a method of teaching catechism and to administer the sacrament of baptism to the deaf.
A recent newspaper article wrote about a legend in Binondo, a district in Manila with predominantly Chinese immigrants, which revolved around the venerated image of Santo Cristo de Longos, an image of the crucified Christ. It was said to be found by a deaf-mute Chinese at the site of an old well in the barrio of Longos in Binondo.
The Filipino Deaf has greatly benefited from the works of the Catholic missions. They often hold yearly national congress on deafness since 1989 and provided sheltered homes and centers to indigent deaf people in the provinces. Many Catholic churches nationwide celebrate mass in sign language.
During the late nineties where deaf fraternities became so rampant and went out of hand, the Catholic Ministry to Deaf People spearheaded the campaign to re-educate the warring groups by providing them sports and spiritual activities. I was personally involved in those activities because back then, MCCID was one of those hit hard by the violence made by these factions. I became one of the facilitators together with Sis. Joy Cristal and Prof. Tess Buenaventura. Both of them are currently connected with DLS-College of St. Benilde School for Deaf Education.
The Catholic Laymen’s Association of the Deaf (CLAD) was formally created in 1998 as the official name of the deaf community in Immaculate Conception Parish of Marikina City. Its objective is to form an association of deaf individuals that espouses the Catholic faith. It was established to foster unity among deaf individuals, to promote the Catholic faith among the deaf by setting good examples, to promote spiritual, moral and social values to serve a group advocacy in the promotion of the general welfare of the deaf and to help in the empowerment of deaf individuals.
Those movements eventually brought peace and spiritual guidance among the deaf group. To all my Catholic brothers, Godspeed! 🙂