What has been happening with the program of ‘Deaf Ministries’ to our children at the Newfoundland School for the Deaf and to the wider Deaf Community?

Well, there is good news and bad news…the bad news first.

The program at the Newfoundland School for the Deaf, which began at the parents’ request more than fifteen years ago, continued as a wonderful ministry through many new developments and challenges. This was drastically changed in October 2002, when the department of student support and services informed the churches, through the Coordinator of Deaf Ministries, that the ministries could no longer continue during school hours. It seemed for a while that the ministry was finished, that all that was built would now be razed.

The good news is that it is not finished. Parents, students, the Deaf community and churches support the ministry, and value it’s continuance. This is what is happening.

  • The five denominations with students attending school have formed a committee to support and oversee the ministry. This ministry is financially supported by the churches.
  • The chaplain is in school four days a week, teaching lunch time classes and leading ‘Youth Groups’ after school.
  • Bible study continues with deaf adults
  • The ‘bulletins for the deaf’ are written and distributed quarterly to the deaf community
  • The chaplain continues to make visitations to sick and shut ins
  • Church services are interpreted every Sunday
  • Projects for faith development and service are being embraced. In February the project is ‘Random Acts of Kindness’.
  • The goal is to link multi coloured hearts from the entrance way to the theater. Each heart contains a name of a child or staff person and an act of kindness that they have done. Each heart must be awarded by another person and not the recipient. It has turned out to be a wonderful adventure, with children and adults eager to see their names on the wall.
  • Church services for the students continue after school, on special occasions. These are lead by the chaplain, are in sign language and include volunteers from all denominations.
  • Ecumenical church services are held at Easter and Christmas for the Deaf Community and their family and friends. These church services are in Sign Language and are interpreted in voice for hearing friends and relatives. They are held at various churches and representatives from all denominations take part in the service.
  • Special visitors are invited to speak to the Youth groups. In March, Judge Lloyd Wicks will be our special guest.
  • Outings with the students continue after school. (Bowling, camps etc)
  • The chaplain visits churches, and church groups, speaking on ‘Deaf Awareness’.
  • This ministry is a part of the national group ‘The Working Group on Deaf Ministry’.
  • Sacrament classes are held after school to prepare children for confirmation, first communion and first reconciliation.

The Deaf Community and our especially our deaf children, need a bridge to the church. This ministry provides a much needed bridge.

Beverley Ares
The Coordinator of Deaf Ministry in Nfld and Labrador