Mass in American Sign Language accessed from near and far

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by Dan Morris-Young

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Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog series covers life in U.S. and Canadian Catholic parishes. The title comes from Pope Francis' words: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. …"

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The 9:30 a.m. Sunday Mass offered in American Sign Language at St. Joseph Parish in Mechanicsburg, Penn., draws worshipers from near and far. The celebrant is Fr. Thomas Rozman, pastor, who studied sign language at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only U.S. college where all programs and services accommodate people who have partial or total hearing loss. On the national level, the National Catholic Office for the Deaf offers training and resources to individuals and parishes.

The Kleven Family of St. Ann Parish in Stoughton, Wisc., say they are very grateful to fellow parishioners for the support given them for their work as Lay Comboni Missionaries in Malawi. During their most recent service time in the small southeast African nation, they helped distribute relief supplies to areas devastated by flooding. While there, they were contacted by a social worker in the northern part of the country about a 10-week-old baby girl. Her mother had died, her father was not in the picture, and her grandparents could no longer care for her. The Klevins, parents Tonya and Jacob and their daughters Lily and Josie, prayed about the situation, which led to the family's adoption of their newest member, Amari. The Klevens report on their work in their blog, as well on a Combini Missionaries' website. There is also a YouTube report on their ministry.

The Fr. Mychal Judge 9/11 Walk of Remembrance, held annually on the Sunday before Sept. 11, begins with saying the rosary then celebrating Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan and concludes about three miles away at St. Peter's Church, where the firefighter chaplain's body was carried on Sept. 11, 2001. About 1,000 people took part at this year's memorial for the Franciscan priest, who is considered by many to be the first recorded victim of the 9/11 attack. A charity named for him, Mychal's Message, serves people who are economically poor or homeless.

Based at St. Agnes Parish in Catonsville, Md., Knight of Columbus St. Agnes Council 4449 reached out to first responders as well as victims of the recent heavy flooding in their area. Members prepared box lunches for relief workers and donated $3,200 to relief organizations.

Detroit parishioners including many from Nativity of Our Lord Church, Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament and St. Thomas Aquinas-St. Christopher Parish are taking part in Taking Back the Night, a prayer outreach effort started by the Detroit archdiocese's Office of Black Catholics to address violence in that city.

Pastor of Divine Savior Mission in Celina, Tenn., and of Holy Family Mission in Lafayette, Tenn., Glenmary Fr. Vic Subb reflects on a special wedding staged in an intensive care unit.

[Dan Morris-Young is NCR's West Coast correspondent. His email is]

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