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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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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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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Sun,6/24: it was raining when I woke up at 6am. However, the sun appeared and it was warm again. Rome is a wonderful city. It is also very noisy and crowded.
There are 27 people on the DCYIA team, including 11 sign language interpreters: ASL, LSM, LSI(Italian Sign Language).
We all can t stay in the same place, so we are staying in four different apartments that we rented for our time here. The day by began with the Board of Directors (DCYIA) meeting from 10 till 12 30. At 1pm , we had our meeting for the entire staff. Because we are hearing and deaf, and from different countries, we had to figure out what languages we use to communicate.
All our meetings are done in spoken Spanish with interpretinging in ASL (AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE) and LSM ( MEXICAN SIGN LANGUAGE). We have four interpreters who can hear Spanish and sign ASL.
This is the only way we can guarantee effective communication
The staff meeting went from 1 till 4pm. 4 to 6pm, we put together all the registration materials for the Conference. 6 to 8pm was the meeting for the entire staff to figure out the scheduling of sign language jnterpreters for the entire week. This is difficult because we have to have English, Spanish , and Italian interpreters for all our Masses and meetings.
By the time we were done, we were all exhausted. I walked back to where I am staying,about a mile away. I was glad I could be outside. On the way home , I stopped to get a gelato, the amazing ice cream of Italy. What did I get???? Chocolate…if course!
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Sat, 6/23: 9am, we met with the staff of the Vatican Museum and Sistine chapel. 6 million people a year visit here. We came to arrange a tour for our group on Tuesday. Afterwards, I had another meeting. Walking through Rome on a warm summer day is a wonderful experience.
In the afternoon, our entire team of 27 people celebrated Mass in the chapel of St. Pius V. The chapel is 300 years old and seats about forty people. Msgr John Kennedy who is on the DCYIA Board celebrated the Mass. Fr. Shawn Carey, deaf priest from Boston , and I concelebrated along with Deacon Pat Graybill. The Mass was in ASL (American Sign Language), LSM (Mexican Sign Language), spoken English and Spanish.
Afterwards, we all went out to eat at Quattro Mori, a wonderful fish restaurant in Rome.
I am writing from very beautiful. very warm Rome. I was supposed to arrive here at 8 30am Wednesday. However, because my plane left late from Chicago, I missed my connecting flight in Zurich,Switzerland to Rome. The airline put me on a plane to Frankfurt, Germany. There I had to get on another plane and fly to Rome arriving at 1pm.
Later that day, I met Chelo Manero from Mexico . She and I work together with DCYIA. Deaf Catholic Youth Initiative for the Americas. We had dinner and I went to bed. I had been up for 36 hours. I slept for 10 hours.
Thursday morning: Rome is very sunny, very warm, and always beautiful. Thursday, Iwent for a long walk in the morning. Rome is very crowded these days with tourists from all over the world. By Noon, some of the interpreters from the US had arrived. We had a meeting to start planning for all the activities for the coming week.
By the evening, a group of young people from Mexico arrived. They were so excited to be in Rome. Fr. Shawn Carey, deaf priest from Bosto, also arrived.
Friday was a busy day. Other staff members were arriving. Pat Graybill, Mary Ann Barth , Lauren-Lynch Ryan , all deaf Board members, finally arrived. Friday evening, we had delicious Italian dinner, lots of pasta and excellent grilled vegetables. Then, a two hour staff meeting (26 staff members, presenters, priests, interpreters) with spoken Spanish, spoken English, ASL, LSM (Mexican sign language) , and start ed to learn some basic Italian signs from our Italian sign language interpreters. The young college students from Mexico went out to “explore” Rome on a Friday night. People like me went to bed!
I remember all of you in my prayers.