Syracuse  Catholic Deaf Community
August 2001 News


                       THIS & THAT
Summer is almost over, and what a summer !
June 30th, Thomas Servatius (remember him from the last newsletter?) received the Rite of Candidacy at St James in Johnson City. He made public his desire to enter the priesthood .  Many from the  Deaf Community were there to share the happiness of the day and look forward to his ordination in 2003.

     July brought ups and downs.

     Our friends Steve Charma and Earl Gillette died.  Fr Jim Mathews  mother Margaret, and Mary Margaret's aunt also passed away.
     The OCAD's Clambake was again a success.
Thanks for a great time!

     The ICDA Conference in Providence, RI, was a wonderful experience for those who went.  Old friends and new ones to meet, daily Mass, lots to learn, interesting tours, and delicious food...and little sleep (ask Albert Perry).
Never a dull minute!

     The ESAD Conference was held in Buffalo.
The Deaf need to know and support their rights.
The Miss Deaf New York Pageant showcased the talent in our young ladies.

     Did you catch Mattie Letham's picture and comments on smoke alarms in the Syracuse newspaper?!

 On June 9, 2001 in the church of St. Therese of Jesus in Aurora, Illinois, near Chicago, Jim Hall was ordained by Most Reverend Thomas G. Doran, Bishop of Rockford.  There were some unusual elements to this Ordination.  First of all, Jim is Deaf, second, Jim is 63 years old, and third, he is a member of the Order called Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.   At the Sign of Peace, each of the 100 or so priests who attended the Ordination gave a special Sign of Peace to their new fellow Priest, Father Jim Hall.  There were priests from his area, priests from his Order, and priests from all over the US and Canada who also work with the Deaf .

The next day was Part Two of the celebration.  This was the day of Father Jim Hall's First Mass of Thanksgiving! The Priest celebrating the Mass was Father Jim himself. Father Mike Depcik, whom many of us in the Syracuse Diocese met last December, read the gospel.

Father Joseph Mulcrone, Chaplain for the Chicago Deaf gave the homily during the First Mass.  He explained how Jim always wanted to be a priest.  But he was told he could not because he was deaf.  But Jim wanted to serve God, and he continued to find a way. The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart allowed him to join their order as a religious brother over 20 years ago.  He made promises then, to obey his Superior and to serve God.  For many years, he lived a life of service to God and particularly to the people who are deaf.  Yet Brother Jim still wanted to become a priest.

About 6 years ago, he was allowed to start studying in a Seminary.  He had a sign language interpreter for all his classes. The books he had to read were very difficult.  Brother Jim would read his books with a dictionary so he could look up words he did not know.  Father Joe Mulcrone told us how Jim used crossword puzzles daily to improve his vocabulary and reading skills so he could pass his courses in the Seminary.

After years of hard work, Brother Jim was ordained as a Permanent Deacon.  He could now baptize babies and marry people. He could read the gospel and preach the homily and assist the priest at the altar.  But Jim was still not satisfied.  He felt God wanted him to be a priest.  So he continued to find people who would support his call, and on June 9, 2001, the Church of St. Therese was filled with people who have encouraged him throughout all these years.

And as Father Joe Mulcrone ended his homily he said, "First he met the challenges and became a Brother.  Then he overcame the struggle and became a Deacon.  Now he has reached his lifelong goal that people told him was impossible and today he is a Priest.  What next, Jim?  Will you become the first Deaf Bishop?"

Watch for the September-October issue of The Deaf Catholic for more on the Ordination and First Mass.

     Youth Fest was a great time!  Matthew and Holly Cutler were there...along with about 250 other teens.  Can you imagine a huge auditorium full of waving hands? and all signing/singing "Alleluia" at the Mass with Bishop Moynihan?
Zenna, Jennie, and Tina, the skilled interpreters,  were kept busy.  It was an awesome event!
               So much to thank God for!
Remember: 'Eucharist' means 'Thanksgiving'.
Steve Wilczek aces saxophone audition

  On Friday and Saturday, May 11 and12, 2001, an amazing event took place at Whitesboro High School of Whitesboro, NY. A gathering of 2,200 student musicians took turns at presenting their talents to an expert panel of judges. The idea was to give the students another view of their progress. Six levels are available-one being the
easiest and six the most difficult.. These auditions are used to place students in various statewide groups.

     One of the students who participated was Steven Wilczek, son of Jacqui and Steve Wilczek of Remsen, NY. Steven is a 12 year old sixth grader at Remsen Elementary School. Nervous and excited, prepared and anxious, Steven played his saxophone
for the judge. He scored 28 out of the possible 28 points!

     Three years ago, when Steven decided to learn to play the Alto Saxophone, Remsen's Elementary Music teacher said "Why not?!?" Mrs Jo Covey then took it upon herself to learn enough sign language so she could communicate and teach music
to this deaf student. Steven learned to read notes and play the sax, feeling the vibration to be aware of any mistakes. Mrs. Covey leads her band classes with
Steven mainstreamed, and signs right along with her natural instruction.

     This is one of the many challenges Steven faces everyday in a public school. He has mastered soccer, baseball, basketball, algebra, history, English, saxophone- and life in a hearing world.

      The many exceptional teachers, along with a lot of good friends and family support make this possible, Steven has attended Remsen School since kindergarten. He never stops amazing the teachers and his family. With positive support and a good attitude
he accomplishes uncommon tasks. Just another kid in the 6th grade! 

Congratulations Steven!  Keep up the good work!

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