Signs of Faith: Interpreting Holy Week Masses for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing

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PROVIDENCE — The faithful at St. Patrick Church joined Catholics around the world in the celebration of Palm Sunday, marking the start of Holy Week.
The spirit-filled parish, once again with blessed palm fronds on hand, was even more vibrant on this Palm Sunday. One year ago, parishes were urged not to distribute palms for health reasons related to the coronavirus pandemic.
On this Palm Sunday, the presence and inclusion of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Catholics also made the celebration even richer. St. Patrick Church and the Office of the Apostolate for People with Disabilities for the Diocese of Providence planned and promoted Holy Week Masses with this community in mind so that they could fully participate in the commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ. ASL Interpreted Masses for the diocese are also held every Sunday at 9:15 a.m., at St. Patrick Church.
Irma I. Rodríguez, director of the Office of the Apostolate for People with Disabilities, explained that the sharing the Gospel with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is a crucial outreach that needs to continue. She added that the diocese, under the leadership of Msgr. Gerard O. Sabourin, has pioneered many initiatives to accompany the Deaf and welcome them into the life of their parishes.
“The Deaf are one of the most overlooked and the least evangelized groups in the world with 98% of Deaf people still waiting to hear John 3:16,” said Rodríguez. “Most Deaf have never seen a Bible story signed in their language or had anyone explain the Gospel to them. Most churches do not provide outreach to the Deaf community; therefore the Deaf have no real access to hear the salvation message. We are all called to know, love and serve our God. Let’s continue to support this important ministry within our diocese.”
Interpreter Robert Remigio, standing and signing prominently in front of Sunday’s congregation, helped bring the Gospel message to life through his meaning-filled gestures as Father Nicholas Smith, senior priest of the Providence parish, delivered the Gospel and reminded those present to remember the crucifixion as an amazing act of love.
“Jesus was willing to suffer this disgraceful death because he loves us — the love that saved and redeemed the people from 2000 years ago and the people today. United in his passion, we are capable of touching the lives of our brothers and sisters with redeeming grace. What we are about to enter into this week is not just a sad remembrance of a dying God. Christ has risen to die no more.”
Father Smith also reflected on the African American hymn, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Noting that his death is more than an event in history.
“The deeper question is, where are we when Jesus is suffering today? Do we share in the carrying of the cross by carrying ours? That’s what this whole week is all about.”

ASL interpreted Masses schedule for Holy Week at St. Patrick Church
PROVIDENCE — The Office of the Apostolate for People with Disabilities and the Ministry for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing invite you to participate in ASL Interpreted Masses at St. Patrick Church in Providence during Holy Week. There are only a limited number of reserved seats. Registration is required. Please contact Irma I. Rodriguez at 401-278-4578 or email at irodriguez@dioceseofprovidence.org as soon as possible. The schedule is as follows: Holy Thursday, April 1, at 7 p.m.; Easter Sunday April 4, at 9:15 a.m.