In October of 2023, the Deaf and Disabilities Ministries Department held a brunch, Thompson’s Table, in Red Bridge. It was a relaxed, meaningful time. Members of the D/deaf and Hard of Hearing community gathered for a good meal, fellowship, and support, and each person shared deeply about their lives. Thompson’s Table is funded by the Aiden McVicker Fund, and is named in memory of Bill Thompson, who was an active member of our ministry in years past.

I felt deeply blessed to be present at this gathering and to be part of this ministry. Indeed, over the last three years, along with this offering, our department has been flourishing and growing. 

Along with Thompson’s Table, we also provide interpreted Masses the first four Sundays of each month. We interpret at St. Elizabeth’s, St. Thomas More, St. Peter’s, and St. Mark’s. To carry out this work, we’re fortunate to have two highly skilled interpreters: Becky Turner and Rhonda Scott. Rhonda also acts as our Deaf Services Coordinator. Along with the Masses, we also teach ASL (American Sign Language) classes. Rhonda leads these classes with Robin Sizemore, who has been deaf since birth. She can not only teach the students to sign, but can also share her first-hand experience with Deaf Culture. 

Another thriving aspect of our work is Parish Mental Health Ministry. In 2022, we received a grant from the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers to assist parishes in creating peer faith-sharing groups for those living with mental health issues and their families. Marie Justin was hired in August of 2022 as our Parish Mental Health Ministry Coordinator. Our goal was to establish ten ministries within two years’ time. However, we were amazed when fifteen parishes established ministries in just one year. 

As Marie stated in the June 5th, 2023 issue of The Catholic Key: “Mental Health Ministry teams offer spiritual companionship by being a listening ear, praying with parishioners, having small groups with a focus on how mental health impacts their faith and trying to grow closer to the Lord through their crosses.”

Along with these programs, we also publish a monthly newsletter, partner with iCare (Overland Park, KS) to host inclusive Masses on the Missouri side, offer friendship and support to SPRED (Special Religious Education) in our diocese, and distribute Twiddles (sensory aides) upon request.

Please keep us in your prayers as we move forward in our work, praying for strength and vision. 

By Lisa Wagner-Carollo, Deaf and Disabilities Ministries Coordinator at Catholic Charities of Kansas City–St. Joseph

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