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For the estimated 5,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, parish participation can be difficult. From homilies to retreats, normal Church events can be inaccessible to those with auditory disabilities, unless specific accommodations are made in advance. Dr. Tomas Garcia Jr., who has been deaf since childhood, knows these challenges well. And now, he’s helping shed light on some of those challenges in his ministry as one of the newest deacons for the archdiocese. Deacon Garcia is the director of ministries at Holy Angels Catholic Church of the Deaf in Vernon, California. In addition, he is an associate professor of American Sign Language at East Los Angeles College. He is also bilingual and as a permanent deacon will be able to reach out to serve other Catholics with auditory disabilities in Los Angeles. “I was born with a hearing loss and progressively began losing more at a rapid pace,” he told CNA. “By the time I reached school age, I was profoundly deaf.” While his family grieved when they learned of his disability, Deacon Garcia believes it brought them all closer to God. At eight years old, Deacon Garcia attended Bible study classes with his grandmother. “I always thought she was also taking me because she wanted me to recover from my hearing loss,” he said. “Eventually, I realized she saw that I had the call.”
Photo: Deacon Louis Roche / CNA