Deaf priest works to help others understand deafness as a culture – The Catholic Sun

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Father Min Seo Park, one of fewer than two dozen deaf priests worldwide, thinks deafness is hardly a disability and is working to help others realize that as well. Deaf since an illness at age 2, the new chaplain of St. Francis of Assisi Deaf Catholic Church in Landover Hills, Maryland, is hoping to convey the idea that deafness be treated as a culture. Since returning to the United States from his native Seoul, South Korea, in late January, Father Park, 52, has taken up three ministries. In addition to serving St. Francis of Assisi, the priest also is the chaplain to the Catholic community at Gallaudet University and provides pastoral ministry to the Archdiocese of Washington’s deaf population overall. The challenges seem well within the capabilities of a priest who is fluent in four languages: Korean Sign Language and American Sign Language, or ASL, as well as written Korean and English. Speaking with the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington, with sign language interpretation assistance of Mary O’Meara, executive director of the archdiocese’s Department of Special Needs Ministries, he told his story of growing up deaf, his path to priesthood and his eventual return to the nation’s capital. He arrived in the U.S. the first time in 1994 to study ASL and English at Gallaudet University’s English Language Institute, before beginning his undergraduate degree there a year later. Gallaudet is the only higher education institution in the world where all students live and learn in ASL and English.

Deaf priest works to help others understand deafness as a culture – The Catholic Sun

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