KUALA LUMPUR:- The International Deaf Day, with the theme "Equality as One Community in the Church", was celebrated on September 30, 2018 at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The celebrations of Holy Mass (with interpreted in sign language) at 9.15am was presided by His Grace Archbishop Julian Leow. Parish priest, Fr Edwin Peter was the con-celebrant.
The celebration was organized by the Catholic Ministry for the Deaf (CMfD) under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, which was established on October 29, 2017 by Archbishop Leow. Some 30 members comprising of about 20 from the Deaf community and 10 interpreters were present.
The prelate welcome the Deaf community, to make them know we are with them."Yes, we come as a community, to celebrate our oneness".
In his homily, Archbishop Leow spoke about God who so loved the world that He gave us His Son, so that we will not perish. He added God sent His Son, so Word not perishes. The whole Gospel message is this for each one of us.
"You who have ears can hear Gospel that can be preached. What about the deaf community? If non of us learnt their sign language, how can they hear or understand the meaning of salvation"?, the prelate retorted. The Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur went on to say it is not fault of the deaf, those mentally challenged, etc. It is us, who have all the faculties, to learn to reach out to the fringes of society. We who have the ability to learn but plead ignorance, as not bother or care. Looking after our own self. "Is this enough, being Catholic; only my own needs or perhaps my own family?", the prelate stressed.
Archbishop Leow then explained what it means to be a Catholic, that is Universal. "We are called to care for all the lame, the deaf, the blind and to bring them into this community. Are there people who care enough to sign (interpret in sign language), include or are we exclusive?.
Touching on the theme, the prelate emphasized are we one community? Are we inclusive or fragmented or divided? Keep heed to the Readings and the voice of the Gospel. "Those who are not against us are for us. How do we deal with people of different denominations, and of different faiths? How do we treat them? Or we exclude them in our circle?", archbishop Leow said.
Basis language of love. How many of us have learnt sign language or read braille, so that we can speak to the blind? How many of us learnt different languages- be it Vietnamese, Myanmarese, Nepalese,etc? That we have in this community different people from different parts of the world. Speak to the Deaf. Do we wait for others or take the initiative like you to ask for Sign Mass and interpreters. Can priests come forward to learn the language of blind, deaf and minorities in our midst? Let us be inclusive and God has included us the whole of humanity. Archbishop Leow told the assembly that those who are willing to listen and response to this invitation, to come to Jesus. "How can they come to Him, if there is no one to preach or interpret for them? If there is no one to learn sign language or the other languages. How are we to hear the Word of God in the language we understand?
Archbishop Leow homily was in English and Bahasa Malaysia in brief. He also commanded the East Malaysian Community of the parish for animating the Mass. The prelate mentioned that God's love is the language of love, the language of faith. "How to share His 'language of love'(Bahasa Cinta) to all, if we don't learn language of faith for all? "For those who not able to speak, you have your duty to share the language of love to others in your community. Those who can speak, to take care of your rights; and communicate through sign and whatever way".
The prelate asked all to take responsibility and be concern and give care to those who have no voice,and those marginalized in society.
As we celebrate International Deaf Day, be sensitive, concern in our community and beyond, added the prelate. "Let us be one community. Our responsibility and speak in the one language of love, that all can understand.
After the homily, about 10 Sign language interpreters were commissioned by the prelate to serve in CMfD.The Archbishop highlighted the need for more interpreters to serve and bring the Word of God to the Deaf.
After Communion, there was a slide presentation (with interpreted in sign language) with Raymond Raj, deaf person who gave the presentation
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