History was made last Tuesday when two Deaf priests, Fr. Shawn Carey of the Archdiocese of Boston and Fr. Paul Zirimenya from San Francisco concelebrated Mass in American Sign Language on CatholicTV. Why is this a big deal? For years, the Deaf community has struggled for the right to use ASL, a language that is linguistically equal to spoken languages, but often perceived as inferior by the majority hearing population. In the Catholic Church’s history, this has sometimes meant that Deaf people were denied the Sacraments because they were not able to access the sacraments in their own native language. To publicly broadcast a Mass celebrated in ASL is a sign of how far the Church has come in recognizing ASL as a natural language on par with all other languages witnessed at Pentecost. It is also a public recognition that Deaf priests can and in fact have been serving hearing people for years, through the gift of their language.
The closed-captioned and voiced interpreted Mass (in English) can be accessed online at: http://www.catholictv.org/shows/catholictv-mass/tuesday-mass-presentation-blessed-virgin-mary