Many people are seeing stories about the country of VENEZUELA. This is very sad. The President of Venezuela, Nicholas Maduro, his family and friends enjoy very wealthy lives. The vast majority of people in Venezuela are very poor, and suffering because of the President. There are many deaf people in Venezuela.  Some of them have escaped from the country and moved to PANAMA. So did some of the sign-language interpreters. However, most of the deaf in Venezuela are too poor; they cannot afford to leave.
I have worked with deaf people, especially young people, in Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Most deaf people in Mexico, Central and South Americas do NOT have what deaf people have in the United States. There are no laws like the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).  There are few good schools for the deaf. (In Guatemala, if you are deaf, they throw you out of school at age 12! If you ask educators about deaf people attending college, they just laugh.)  There are no professional interpreter training programs in Mexico, Central or South America!. NONE!  Interpreters don’t get paid. They volunteer to do this work because of their Faith and their love for deaf people.  Many deaf people do not have jobs.   For example, in Ecuador, if you are deaf you cannot get a driver’s license.  So, if you can’t drive, how can you get to work?! Few deaf people have computers, cell phones, any kind of technology.
I work with an organization DCYIA (Deaf Catholic Youth Initiative for the Americas). We try to work with deaf young people in these countries south of the United States. Over the years, I have been so impressed by these deaf young people. They are poor, do not have a lot of school education, often cannot find anyone to hire them, BUT……their FAITH in JESUS, their LOVE of MARY & the SAINTS, their generous SERVICE and CARE of one another is BETTER than I have experienced here in the United States.  Pray for our deaf brothers and sisters in MEXICO, the CARIBBEAN, CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICAS. Pray especially for a change in the government of VENEZUELA and justice for the people who are suffering so much.

Why are 7,000 Hondurans Marching to the US?

If you look on the news, you see headlines, “7,000 Hondurans Marching through Mexico”. “President says this is a ‘National Emergency.'” What is going on?
The people fleeing Honduras are trying to escape the awful things happening in their country. Honduras has the highest murder rate IN THE WORLD! The rate of rapes, assaults, murders in Honduras is worse than in Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan. Why? WHY? Because so many people in the UNITED STATES continue to use illegal drugs! Most of the illegal drugs come from Columbia and Bolivia in South America. However, these drugs pass through countries like Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala. The gangs in these countries control the flow of the drugs. So, in Honduras, the gangs are always fighting. They shoot people to make them afraid of the gangs and their power. The government and police departments there to nothing to protect families. Why? Because the gangs pay off the politicians and police. Ordinary, good people have NO protection. So, they want to go to a country which is safe,the United States.
The United States government says it wants to stop all these people coming here. If that is true, then stop people in the United States from using illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin. How? Get people who are addicted help they need. Many of these people want to stop, but there are not enough drug-treatment programs to help them. We pay all this money to build “a wall” to keep people out. These are innocent people from Honduras, victims of terror, rape, murder, and poverty. Get help for people who are buying these illegal drugs; stop the people making huge profits from selling drugs. Then, the horrible things happening in Honduras and Guatemala and Nicaragua and El Salvador will end.


In the United States, one in every six boys (hearing) and one in every three girls (hearing) suffers some form of sexual abuse by the time they are 16 years old. If you are deaf and/or disabled, that rate is DOUBLE the rate of hearing or non-disabled children and young people. Why? There are many reasons. People who commit sexual crimes (predators) are always looking for children who are easy targets. Many deaf children never receive good sex education about what is safe and not safe. Why? Because their hearing parents don’t sign or are embarrassed to use sexual signs. In addition, often deaf children are very isolated (91% grow up in hearing families). If they attend “main-streamed” schools, they may be the only deaf child in a class, in a school! So, the perpetrator notices those children who seem lonely, no friends. The perpetrator shows in interest in that child, tries to communicate, or gives ‘gifts”. The deaf child becomes a victim. Also, the perpetrator knows three things about deaf and/or disabled children:
1) The child victim may be afraid to “disappoint” the perpetrator, and lose that “friendship”. The perpetrator may even be skilled in sign-language.
2 Perpetrators know that the deaf child may have a hard time communicating what happened because so many hearing adults parents, police, hospital staff, social workers, counselors) don’t sign.
3) Many hearing adults (even parents) think that no one would have sex with a deaf or disabled child. WRONG! Perpetrators depend on that attitude. Perpetrators love to have sex with children and young people they know will NOT be able to communicate, and adults will not believe the child.
Perpetrators LIE. They say, “oh, this does not hurt the child. Oh, I love this child. The child dressed sexy and that is why I had sex. The child wanted to have sex with me.” NO!!! LIES!!!!!
Sexual abuse happens in many different situations in our community:
DEAF ADULTS may force sex on the hearing children of deaf parents. The deaf parents trust their deaf friends.
DEAF ADULTS may force sex on other deaf young people. They sign, “oh, this is part of growing up. It is okay because we are deaf.”
OLDER HEARING CHILDREN may force sex on their younger brothers/sisters, or step-brothers, step-sisters.
HEARING ADULTS, often family members, may force sex on deaf children. The hearing person knows that other hearing people will NOT believe the deaf or disabled child. What can we do?
1) If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, it is NOT your fault. If you still suffer because you were abused, even 10,20, 30 years ago, get help. Go to a counselor who can help you with you get rid of your suffering.
2) People who force children or young people to have sex commit a crime. The police should arrest them, and they should go to jail. Sexual abuse is also a terrible SIN. This hurts God’s children. God’s judgment will be hard on those who hurt children. God will punish sexual abusers.
1) if your child tells you, voice or sign, that someone forced them to have sex or watch sexy videos or touched them in a sexual way, BELIEVE YOUR CHILD. Immediately call 9-1-1 to report this. If the child communicates that this happened in school, do NOT call the school. Call 9-1-1. If the child is deaf, tell the police they MUST bring a CERTIFIED INTERPRETER to do any interviews with the child. The parent or a hearing brother/sister should NOT act as the “interpreter”.
2) Hearing parents have to teach their children, hearing/deaf, about what is safe touching and not safe touching; what is healthy behavior and what is not healthy behavior. Parents MUST promise their children that the parents will ALWAYS believe the child if the child tells them what happened. Also, if another adult tells the child, “do NOT tell your parents what we did; this is OUR secret,”, the child MUST tell the parents.
3 If your child is in another home and someone shows the child pornography on a computer, a tv screen, the child must tell the parents. Then, call 9-1-1.

There is a very good resource for all parents: www.stopitnow.org. That site gives parents good information about sexual abuse. There is also a special set of pages for parents who have children who are deaf/disabled, have “special needs”.
Father Joseph Mulcrone


For many years, insurance companies took advantage of deaf people. Car insurance companies all charged deaf people MORE for car insurance. Why? Because the car insurance companies believed that deaf drivers were worse than hearing drivers. Proof? None, but it did not matter. Finally, about 35 years ago, a group of deaf people investigated the rates of accidents for deaf drivers and hearing drivers. What did they find out? Deaf drivers and hearing drivers have the SAME RATE of car accidents. Now , the law does NOT allow an automobile insurance company to charge deaf drivers more than hearing drivers for car insurance.
The same thing happened with health insurance. For many years, insurance companies refused to give health insurance to people who were deaf and/or disabled. Why? Because they had a “pre-existing” condition. Insurance companies believed that if you were deaf and/or disabled, you had a higher risk to become sick and end up in a hospital. Finally, President Obama signed into law the AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE ACT (Obamacare). This law stopped insurance companies from refusing health care insurance to people who were deaf or charging deaf people more for health insurance JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE DEAF!
Now, some people in the U.S. Congress want to get rid of that protection for deaf and disabled persons. Many politicians who are REPUBLICAN want to get rid of the law. Many people who are DEMOCRATS want to keep the law. This November, there will be an election for ALL U.S. Representatives. Find out what the politicians running for CONGRESS in your district believe. Are they FOR keeping health care protections for people with “pre-existing” conditions (DEAF/ Disabled). Or, are they AGAINST keeping that protection.? ONLY VOTE for those people who want to keep OBAMACARE and the protection for people who are deaf and/or disabled.

2018Italy, Thursday 6/28.

The entire group went to the Coliseum in Rome. We had two excellent deaf guides for the deaf participants.
There is a wonderful organization in Rome that provides deaf guides who know ASL for deaf tourists and deaf groups.
Chelo and I left to make last minute arrangements for the evening meal.
At Noon, the DCYIA Board had a meeting. We discussed all that had happened in the week. We also talked about our work, whrre to go to continue our ministry with deaf young people in poor countries.
4pm, our last event. Everyone gathered for a last meal of four different kinds of pizza and salad overlooking Rome.
Eduardo Alvarez, a deaf young man from Panama, invited us to Panama January 2019 for world Catholic Youth Week.
7pm, our staff of 27 people gathered to evaluate the events of the week. Most of the staff were young people, hearing and deaf, who had worked extremely hard preparing for this week and gave of themselves totally to this effort. Many of them had never been outside of Mexico or Guatemala. Our interpreters had done amazing work considering all the languages, spoken and signed, that we had used.
Suddenly, it was time to say goodbye. Tears, hugs, last photos. This was an incredible team. I was proud to be a part of it.

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2018Italy, June 27 continued.

From 1 till 7pm, DCYIA hosted a Conference “Walking with Jesus in Faith ” at the Augustinian College in the Vatican. We had four sign languages: English, Spanish, Italian, and German for two permanent Deacons from Germany, one deaf, the other deaf-blind.
Our first main speaker was Cardinal Turkson. He is a very close assistant to Pope Francis. He was born to a poor family in Ghana, Africa. He speaks 7 languages including very good English. I was able to speak with him a bit before his talk. He was very friendly, humble, and very funny! He gave us a wonderful talk about how Jesus walks with us, accompanies us on our journey through life. Jesus never leaves us
So, we must be willing to travel with others, especially those who are suffering. Then, he said that being deaf means we have the same responsibility to do God’s work in the world. He was so enthusiastic and encouraging.
After the Cardinal, we had a typical Italian coffee break with excellent pastries and fruit.
We resumed with a panel of deaf priests, deacons, and lay people discussing their experiences in the Church, and how we can improve services for deaf people.
Finally, we had Archbishop Fisichella, the head of the Vatican Office for Evangelization.. His message was that everyone in the Church, including deaf people, have to let other people know about God’s love in Jesus Christ. Many deaf people do not realize that Jesus died to save them too.
By the end of the day, everyone on our team was exhausted, but thrilled that all our planning for three years had worked out.

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2018ITALY: day 6

JUNE 27: an amazing day. We were all assembled at 7 30am to enter the Paul 6th meeting hall right next to St. Peter’s Square. Our group of 130 was there along with about 150 persons with disabilities who were in Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics. Our group w a s seated in rows of chairs right in the front. We agreed to have three interpreters: ASL, LSM (Spanish), and LSI (Italian). The interpreters were nervous because they would be near the Pope. Suddenly, around 8 15, Pope Francis walked out on stage. Our whole group was waving( deaf applause). Young people with disabilities were yelling and applauding. Suddenly the Pope turned to the deaf group and waved back.
The Pope then gave a short talk and thanked DCYIA for coming to the Vatican. He walked down from the stage and talked to and hugged each of the young people, many of whom had severe disabilities. Then…
…he came over to our group.with interpreters on each side of him, he stopped and talked to every person in our group. Many of the young deaf people who had come from Mexico, Guatemala, and Panama could not stop crying.The Pope was surprised to meet two deaf priests, Fr. Shawn Carey and Fr. Chris Klusman. BRIAN SWATEK presented him with a Chcago Bears Jersey with the name POPE FRANCIS 1 on the back.The Pope laughed out loud and Brian explained it was an American football team. He took the jersey.
Finally Pope left. Many of those in our group still were so overcome with emotion, they just sat in their chairs tears of joy rolling down their cheeks. T he Pope was out in St. Peter’s Square greeting the 75,000 people sitting there in the hot sun.
PART 2 to follow.

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2018Italy: Day 5, part 2.

I want to share with you some of what Archbishop Paul Gsllagher preached to us at the Mass on June 26.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher is a very experienced Papal diplomat. He admitted that in 41 years as a priest, he had never preached at a Mass with 4 sign language interpreters(English, Spanish, Italian, German). For the Gospel reading, he chose the reading from the Gospel of St. Mark when Jesus heals the deaf man. The Archbishop said that Jesus was a “sign” to the man of God love and concern for him. Deaf people and hearing people communicate through signs.
We ALL are to be a “sign” of God s love for one another. Whether we are deaf or hearing, our responsibility is the same. People should be able to look at our lives and see us as the “sign” of how much God loves them.
Our sharing in the “one bread” and the “one cup” is a “sign” to us of how we are United to the entire Catholic Church. Being at the Vatican and remembering that St. Peter is buried just below where we are celebrating the Mass, should remind us of how we share in the 2,000 year tradition of our Faith and the unity represented by Pope Francis.

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2018Italy: Day 5

Tuesday, 6/25. Including our team, there are 130 people in our group. At 8:30am, we told everyone to meet at the Vatican Museum.
Six million people visit the Museum every year. The line to get in was already a half mile long. Our group had special tickets, so we met at the entrance. We divided into 6 smaller groups. The two deaf groups had deaf guides who are certified as tour guides in Rome.
Everyone got to see the beautiful art of the Museum, and especially the amazing Sistine Chapel. When we all got out. it was about 11 30am. We grabbed a quick lunch. At 1pm, we were all standing in the line to get into St. Peter’s Basilica. It took one hour for us to get through security and into this magnificent church.
Many of us stopped to pray at the altar/ tomb of Saint John Paul II.
At 3:30pm, our group celebrated a Mass at the amazing chapel/altar of the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Assistant Secretary of State celebrated the Mass. BRIAN SWATEK from Chicago was one of our Readers. (I will share some thoughts with about the Mass later.) When the Mass was finished, many people stayed to walk around St. Peter’s just in awe of this incredible church.
7pm, we all gathered at the Quattro Mori (4 Seas) restaurant for an incredible and filling meal. This is one of the best fish restaurants in the world. Headed to bed to prepare for Wed.
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2018Italy: Day 4

MON, 6/25: I was at the Rome airport early in the morning to wait for the group from Chicago to arrivë. I was relieved when they all showed up. After they settled in at the hotel, I went to meet with our DCYIA team.At 2pm, Fr. Shawn Carey, a deaf priest from Boston, celebrated our Mass.
We celebrated Mass in a very old chapel in Rome. It was a n odd experience.
The altar was against the wall, the way altars were before Vatican II. So here was a deaf priest signing prayers of the Mass facing away from the people. I voiced the prayers in English and Deacon Pat Graybill copy signed to the ASL and LSM interpreters.
After Mass, we began registration for the Conference. Groups of deaf from Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Italy arrived, all excited to be in Rome. Fr. Charley Dittmeier who works with the deaf in Cambodia showed up, as did Fr. Len Broniak from Houston, Texas.
A deaf-blind Deacon from Germany came with his two interpreters. He ministers to deaf-blind people in Germany. Fascinating to talk with him. At 7pm, I join ed the Chicago group for dinner at a very old, very nice restaurant.
At this time of the year, Rome is full of tourists. At night, the streets are filled with many young people. Many people love to walk at St. Peter’s Square in the evening. People in Italy tend to eat dinner AFTER 8pm, so restaurants are full late in the evening. Also lots of people in Europe are excited to watch the World Cup soccer games on TV. Soccer is the #1 sport here, even though Italy is not in the games tg his year.
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