Now hear this: the new missal translation for the deaf

With so much attention focused on preparing the faithful for the new Roman Missal, it’s worth noting that it’s being translated into yet another language — the language of the deaf.

The National Catholic Reporter notes:

Across the country, deaf and hard-of-hearing Catholic communities and their interpreters are preparing for the November changes thanks to free online resources.

The National Catholic Office for the Deaf served as the launching pad for a series of video clips as preparation and as a reference for the new translation of the Roman Missal into American Sign Language (ASL). The videos, posted in April, are available on YouTube and the Washington archdiocese’s Web site at www.adw.org/service/interpreter_training_newromanmissal.asp. The archdiocese created the videos.

Other deaf apostolates have created training as well, such as Boston, which has its own online training videos at www.deafcatholic.org. In addition to online resources, it provides in-person workshops for Boston Catholics, said Fr. Jeremy St. Martin, director of the office of the deaf apostolate in Boston.

The idea for the video clips on the Washington archdiocese Web site came from Mary O’Meara, executive director for the Department of Special Needs Ministries for the archdiocese. O’Meara grew up going to signed Mass with her father, who was deaf. She also has degrees in linguistics and interpreting from Gallaudet University, a Washington school designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Often, she said, “those marginalized communities, like the deaf Catholic community or other communities of persons with disabilities, are kind of left in the dust in these big changes that we experience in the life of our church.”

This online resource, she said, prepares them in advance and helps them feel comfortable and familiar with the changes.

Read more. And you watch the Archdiocese of Washington’s introductory video below.  You can find the rest of the series at this link.

YouTube Preview Image

Related: Beautiful Ordination Video of a Deaf Priest


  1. Do they have masses especially for the hearing impaired? I guess there aren’t enough hearing impaired located in one area to justify it.

  2. There isn’t any official translation into ASL, including for the clergy, as this clip indicates. This series from the Archdiocese of Washington is very useful for working on appropriate sign choices for the new translation.

    We had a quite good workshop here in San Francisco back in June which included in part working with some sections of the those videos.


    BTW Deacon Greg, the person speaking in that clip you put up is DEACON Patrick Graybill :-)

  3. @ Manny

    There are definitely Catholic parishes in the US for the deaf and a number of deaf clergy. In the San Francisco area we have a parish in SF with two deaf priests, and a parish in the East Bay with a hearing Franciscan priest who celebrates the Mass in ASL.

    P.S. to my previous post, ASL is the sign language used in the US. I don’t know what’s happening re the new translation in other English speaking countries which have their own sign languages, not ASL

  4. Thank you Mary. :)

  5. Note that this is not the ASL translation of the Mass (from Latin editio typica) on which the NCOD has been working for some time, now, but rather, a service to interpreters who will be facing new English texts this Advent. Some of the signing seen here is closer to the ASL as being developed by the Committee, but it’s still an interpretation suggested for interpreters, rather than a translation for the Deaf, per se.

    Isn’t Graybill’s signing beautiful?

  6. Deacon Norb says:

    We have been signing Mass in our parishes locally for a number of years and for some reason, the weekend mass ministry recently moved to the one where I am assigned.

    Yesterday, I caught up with the young lady who provides that ministry and mentioned this blog article and the comments and videos attached. She smiled and indicated that our diocese had started orienting the interpreters as soon as a text of all the new translations were available several months back. Since that time, she has been to several sessions where the various ways of signing the new texts were demonstrated and practiced.

    Bottom line, the deaf community in our area seems more up-to-date and prepared for all this than the rest of us!

Leave a Comment