Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 7, 1982
Deaf Community 'Hears' Father Coughlin's Renewal
By Thea Jarvis
When Father Tom Coughlin spent a weekend with the deaf community at Corpus Christi Church in Stone Mountain last month, he touched many hearts.
Because of his own deafness, Father Coughlin was able to minister to deaf Catholics gathered for renewal in a unique and personal way.
Father Coughlin is a Trinitarian priest based in Washington, DC, who travels at home and abroad to bring an expanded experience of faith to deaf Catholics.
The weekend included talks to young and old, a film, pot-luck supper, private conferences, confessions, liturgy, and even a baptism for one of Corpus Christi's newest arrivals. It was open to all Catholics of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Friday night's supper brought together about 70 hearing-handicapped from all over the archdiocese for a special film and talk by Father Coughlin.
According to Christine McDonald, pastoral assistant for the deaf at Corpus Christi, Father Coughlin's message was that "deafness is not a handicap but a special gift from God to be used and shared with others."
A special showing of the Alliance Theatre's production of Brigadoon, which followed the priest's Saturday morning session with deaf teens, was a weekend highlight.
Father Coughlin and nineteen teenagers, along with some of Corpus Christi's parish staff, traveled to downtown Atlanta to see the play. Throughout the performance, the cast was "shadowed" by darkly-clad interpreters who signed the dialogue for their deaf audience. Among those who shadowed the performers were some of Father Coughlin's former classmates from Galludet College in Washington, DC.
At the end of the play, the management announced that they had had numerous requests to interpret every play in the Alliance's coming season.
Back at Corpus Christi, the Saturday evening Mass was signed by Father Coughlin and the liturgy was enhanced by Corpus Christi's own signing Choir, the Signs of Praise.
Sister Rose Huber, who is a choir member and works closely with the deaf community at Corpus Christi, expressed the feelings of all who shared the renewal: "We were very blessed this month. It was a happy experience to share out food, family, friends and faith together with Father Tom in Georgia."