Deafness and Darth: one seminarian's story

Deafness and Darth: one seminarian's story May 5, 2011

One of the man about to be ordained in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is a huge fan of “Star Wars” — who also happens to have been born deaf.

Details, from the Catholic Herald:

People may be surprised to learn that Darth Vadar, chief antagonist in the original trilogy, is the favorite “Star Wars” character of one of the archdiocese’s soon-to-be ordained priests.

“People are like, ‘That doesn’t seem like something you would like,’” laughed Christopher Klusman, 34, describing the collection of Darth Vader memorabilia he keeps in his Saint Francis de Sales Seminary room, including a keychain, coffee cup, 6-foot cardboard cutout and mask that, when spoken into, mimics Darth Vader’s low, robotic voice. But there’s a reason.

“His story is really interesting because he’s a good guy and people introduced him (to) and fed him wrong ideas that (make him think) he’s doing a good thing, but then at the very end of the series you see he comes back to the good side, so it’s a beautiful human struggle that people go through on earth,” the Milwaukee native said in an interview with your Catholic Herald. “…I see him as a very genuine human person, very real in the way that he tried to do the best, but things lead him in all different directions.”

Klusman understands struggles. He’s encountered plenty growing up Deaf – and hopes to use his experiences to bridge the gap between the Deaf and hearing of the Catholic Church.

“I hope that I can open the doors more in a way for Deaf people to come to love God and understand their faith better,” he said.

“It’s been a blessing and a thorn to me,” Klusman said of his Deafness with a capital “D,” which he explained denotes someone like himself, who views Deafness as a vital part of his identity by sharing the primary American Sign Language, experiences, values, social norms, traditions and views that it is a difference, not a disability.

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5 responses to “Deafness and Darth: one seminarian's story”

  1. Meeting Deacon Christopher a few times has been so joyful. He radiates joy. We are so blessed to have him.

  2. Awesome story. My child is hard of hearing and has bi-lateral microtia. it is inspiring to see someone in the deaf and hard of hearing community answer God’s call to the priesthood!

  3. Tony-he can read lips and he can speak. He will hear confessions “face to face” without the screen only so that he can understand what the penitent is saying.

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