Sign language Mass in Kerala hailed as first in India

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Kochi: Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church, led a Mass for hearing impaired people Sept. 11 assisted by priests trained in sign language, with local media calling it a first in India.

Some 200 people, including school-going children to 83-year grandmother, attended the mass and gathering at the Church’s headquarters in Kochi.

Hearing impaired people from all the 15 dioceses of the Church in the southern state attended the program.

As the Cardinal said the Mass prayers, a priest and a nun trained in sign language stood behind him in the altar communicating the prayers through signs to the gathering that could not hear or speak a word. They also respond to the prayers in sign language.

“All the dioceses would arrange Mass for you, whenever you need. Please let us know,” Cardinal Alencherry said at the end of the Mass.

The Church is realizing the increasing need of pastoral care for physically challenged people. Other sacraments including confession also would be administered in sign language, he said.

The video of the Mass went viral in social media and several local language media called it a first in India. But the cardinal said such liturgical services are already available in many other countries.

The Church in India could not do it so far for want of people trained in sign language. The Eastern Church’s synod has now decided to have such services in all its 33 dioceses across India.

The necessary permissions have been accorded to have sign language mass in Syro-Malabar Church, he told media.

Source: UCAN