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New York City’s deaf Catholics find a new home

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 07/23/15


Some readers may recall the controversy surrounding the announcement last year that a parish serving New York’s deaf community was going to close.

Now, an update, via Catholic New York:

After three decades at St. Elizabeth’s parish, deaf Catholics are about to embark on a new chapter for worship and social gatherings at St. Thomas More parish. Both parishes are located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, approximately six blocks apart. And the faithful at St. Thomas More are more than ready to welcome them, according to the pastor. “We’re very pleased to provide a home for the deaf community,” said Father Kevin V. Madigan, pastor of St. Thomas More. The parish, he said, has always had a tradition of hospitality toward people and various groups seeking meeting space. “I always believe that if you can say ‘yes’ and you have the resources to be able to make that ‘yes,’” then you should. In conjunction with decisions announced last November through the Making All Things New archdiocesan pastoral planning initiative, the parishes of St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Stephen of Hungary will merge with St. Monica parish. St. Monica’s is the designated parish church. After Aug. 1, Masses and the sacraments will no longer be celebrated on a regular weekly basis at St. Elizabeth’s and St. Stephen’s… …The archdiocese worked with Msgr. Patrick McCahill, pastor of St. Elizabeth’s and moderator of the archdiocesan Deaf Center headquartered there, to find a new location for the deaf community that currently meets at St. Elizabeth’s. Cardinal Dolan personally reached out to Msgr. McCahill regarding prospective alternative worship and gathering sites for the group in another parish. Members of deaf community were also involved in the search for the new site. “It’s the best of a bad situation, frankly,” said Msgr. McCahill. He said it is neither his choice, nor that of the deaf community, to relocate. “They’re very nice, they’re very welcoming as a parish,” he said of St. Thomas More. “They’re quite lovely—they’re the best of all we found, in terms of welcoming and being accepted. “But,” continued Msgr. McCahill, “Is that ideal? No, it’s not ideal. They’ll be respected, but it’s still not their own place. They don’t have the same sense of ownership that they had here for three and a half decades. That’s the reality.” He is grateful for the church’s intimate size, which will prevent his “relatively small group” from feeling lost, he said, and will provide proper sight lines to read interpreted liturgies. “It’s a size that’s certainly comfortable.”

Read more. 

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