The Related Unknown: Increasing Vocabulary for Deaf Children

These engaging and exciting lessons are internalized and remembered. "For Lent, we do the Stations of the Cross. I take a big Cross right off the wall and have one of the children carry it! And once I had this particular child put it over his shoulder and we acted it all out. Well, his mother was ill and went to Lourdes and she brought her son with her; and she was trying to explain the Stations of the Cross to him and he said, 'I know, I know! What do you think I was doing in Sister Joan's Class?!'

"I relate all the lessons to the Bible. I use a children's illustrated Bible for any age—even teens. With my confirmation group—usually 13- or 14-year-old kids—we also have paperback Bibles. I show them how we find stories in the Bible and have them find the books, the chapters, and verses. I have to explain to them in the beginning that with the Bible we don't use page numbers—we use chapter and verse."

I'd like to sum up all of these points with a quote from another creative, effective educator. Author and teacher Alex Basile writes terrific books based on his teaching experiences as head of the Theology Department of Kellenberg Memorial, a top (hearing) Catholic high school in New York. His advice? "Meet young people where they're at, but don't leave them there. Bring them to Christ!"

Sister Joan Mary carefully builds bridges of love and communication to reach deaf young people where they're at, and with God's help, brings them into His heart and into the life of the Church.

If you would like to write to Sister Joan Mary Finn, OP, please email her at:

2/16/2011 5:00:00 AM