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Deaf ministry begins at church

May 05, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Cindy Kline cried all the way through her son's graduation from Hagerstown Community College because she couldn't hear what was being said.

Kline, whose hearing has been affected by Meniere's Disease, said that experience made her acutely aware of how vital hearing is in life's special moments.

In that spirit, she is looking forward to this Sunday's 8 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Halfway, which for the first time will be signed for the deaf and hearing-impaired.

As the liturgy chair of the church in Halfway, Kline joined with Dean Boggs, president of the pastoral council, in working toward this goal.

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"The seed was actually planted by two members who have a child with a severe hearing impairment," Boggs said.

He and Kline, who wears two hearing aids, came up with a plan to develop a deaf ministry.

"Hopefully, it will catch on," Kline said, stressing how important it is for Catholics to hear the Mass and to fully appreciate its power.

Much of the Mass is ritual and easily followed by the hearing-impaired. But each day, there is a different liturgy of the Lord which represents the word of God. That would be lost on the deaf person.

"The word is how we celebrate in the church setting," Kline said.

Meniere's disease is an auto-immune disorder which affects the inner ear, causing hearing loss, dizziness and ringing in the ears.

Kline has no hearing left in her right ear and said what she can hear in her other ear is often hard to understand.

"I'm acutely aware of the limitations," Kline said of her interest in making this project reality at her church.

Since not all hearing-impaired people use or understand signing, someday Boggs said he hopes the church will be able to get money and be able to provide a neck device for hearing enhancement.

"We are going to apply for a grant from the archdiocese for the loop system," Boggs said. "If we get it, then that system would always be available."

Stacy Farone will be doing the signing this Sunday, but only at the 8 a.m. Mass. The 10:15 a.m. and noon Masses are unaffected.

"We're hoping enough hearing-impaired people will attend to justify it," Kline said, noting that signers are paid by the hour.

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