logo-ascension-newThe Faith Formation Leader
For Immediate Release

Groundbreaking New Program Serves the Catholic Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

[Exton, PA, January 6, 2020—] There are roughly 5.4 million deaf or hard-of-hearing Catholics in the United States. With English as their second language, many of these Catholics are left searching for scarce resources, often not finding what they need. While there has been a growing awareness for the need for more and better resources, deaf and hard of hearing Catholics often must rely on interpreters and closed-captioning to, in a sense, translate materials that were not originally developed or taught in their native language of American Sign Language.

“For the Deaf, God’s communication can be seen through the hands of signing, ” said Father Shawn Carey, President of the National Catholic Office for the Deaf. “This access means making evangelization for the Deaf happen. There has been lack of evangelization attempts for them to access their faith. Now, ‘Hands of Grace’ can break barriers for them to learn and appreciate their faith more. Having faith in the lives of the Deaf is vital to ensure them that God is always on their side.”

Ascension, a leading Catholic publisher known for creating cutting edge programs, teamed up with Father Loomis to create Hands of Grace: The Catholic Sacraments in American Sign Language, featuring videos of Father Loomis teaching in ASL and a workbook he authored that is specifically designed with a visual emphasis to better provide a dynamic learning experience for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Through seven sessions, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the sacraments and their Catholic faith as they learn the story behind the sacraments, discover the Church’s teachings about the sacraments and live out the abundant grace given to us in the sacraments.

“The more I got to know the Catholic deaf and hard of hearing community, the more I became convinced of the need for a faith formation program specifically designed for them- in their language, with their sensibilities and learning styles in mind,” said Father Seán Loomis, author and presenter of Hands of Grace, as well as a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Father Loomis is fluent in American Sign Language and has been serving the community for five years.

Hands of Grace takes participants on an amazing journey as they learn the power and purpose of the sacraments, with the goal nothing short of winning over their hearts and minds — and keeping them firmly planted within the Church.

“To promote enthusiasm for the Gospel and to use the language and culture of the people as the foundation to express the beauty and richness of faith is a vital tenant of evangelization and faith formation,” said Sister Kathleen Schipani, Director of the Deaf Apostolate in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “Yet, this has not often been the case for those who use American Sign Language. Hands of Grace does just that, using the language of the Deaf to communicate the truth and beauty of our faith!”

This study on the sacraments presents a workbook, 2-DVD set, and downloadable Leader’s Guide. In addition to the seven part video series, author and presenter Father Seán Loomis has created a video glossary to show how 40 Catholic words (e.g. Paschal Mysteries) are properly done in American Sign Language. Within this glossary, Father finger-spells the word, then shows the sign. This resource is included on the 2-DVD set, and is available for free at ascensionpress.com.

Father Seán Loomis, Hands of Grace’s author and presenter, is a graduate of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2013. Following years of study of American Sign Language and engaging in deaf culture, he currently serves as the chaplain to the Deaf Apostolate in Philadelphia. As an advocate for the deaf community, Fr. Loomis works to ensure full access to the riches of the Faith for all deaf individuals and their families.

Hands of Grace is available for purchase online here.

Ascension is a multimedia network and the world leader in the creation and distribution of Catholic faith formation programs and digital content. Over the past 20 years, Ascension has helped nurture the faith of over 10 million people in over 8,000 parishes through more than 50 unique faith formation programs and the Ascension Presents media and YouTube platforms.

For author interviews or other media inquiries, please contact Ascension at (484) 876-1400 or newsroom@ascensionpress.com.