On Saturday, 15th June 2019, over 160 people – many of them from the Deaf Community, came together at St. Patrick’s Collyhurst to give thanks for 90 years of continual service, through St. Joseph’s Mission to Deaf People. Bishop John Arnold as the main Celebrant signed the Holy Mass to the Deaf congregation relying only on the interpreter for his Homily.
The many Deaf people present were delighted to know that their Bishop communicated to his flock in the same language they used. For many, to experience their Bishop using British Sign Language (BSL) and sign supported English was a revelation and to some almost a Pentecost moment! For everyone, the Mass was a memorable celebration and with nine priests on the altar and a choir that signed it was a reminded to everyone that the service to the Deaf community was both vital and alive.
Speaking at the end of Mass, Eileen Hosie, herself a Deaf person and BSL user, led the thanksgiving for 90 years of service, describing St. Joseph’s Mission to Deaf People as “a bright light shining living out its’ mission to support the social, spiritual and emotional needs of Deaf people, so they could develop and use their gifts and skills and be a sign of God’s love to the Church”.
Reflecting on the 90 years of service, Eileen reminded the congregation of the pioneering work of the founder Cn. Charles Heywood and the eventual move to Henesy House in Collyhurst, led by the Evron Sisters who moved here in 1992. Key to the development of the Deaf Service she said were three inspirational leaders – Cn. Charlie Hollywood, Terri O’Mara and Peter McDonough each playing their part, alongside Sister Maria McCready and Sister Pauline Nolan to create a wonderful pastoral and social service at Henesy House that met the many practical and spiritual needs of Deaf people in the Diocese of Salford. The centre she concluded had become a “wonderful home, full of love, care, peace, joy and laughter.”
Today, St. Joseph’s Mission to Deaf People is part of Caritas Diocese of Salford under the chaplaincy of Fr Jim Clarke and supported by Fr. Paul Fletcher And other clergy, religious and laity who also serve St. Joseph’s Mission to Deaf People as well as the Catholic Deaf Association and which is also based in the Diocese. All this great work would not be possible but for the support of catechist volunteers, both Deaf and hearing, who give their time to develop the pastoral work that supports over 120 Deaf people in the service today.