After spending several years in leadership and administration work, I am happy to return to full time pastoral work with the Deaf Ministry in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, Philippines.
Preparing meals with the people of the Deaf Ministry. Photo: Lanieta Tamatawale
I am familiar with Mindanao, as my first assignment as a lay missionary was to a Columban parish there, Holy Rosary, where I worked with the deaf community. I was fortunate to learn sign language from an excellent teacher, Vilma Arante, and my passion and love for working with the deaf community grew rapidly.
Upon returning to Cagayan de Oro, I was assigned once again to work with Vilma who is now the Coordinator of the Deaf Ministry in the Archdiocese. I am delighted to be back working with her as we have known each other for many years now and her passion for her work still amazes me.
The Deaf Ministry strives to help people become independent through learning life skills, moral values and taking care of their own finances. They work with the elderly, youth, families and school-age children.
Assistance is also available to people seeking employment. Many of the older deaf community are massage therapists and gather every six months at the Columban House in Patag to make their massage oils. This is an opportunity to share stories and support each other.
Working in the Archdiocese, we have the responsibility of teaching Catechism to young people. We offer interpreting services in two parishes every Sunday and strive to make our Church more inclusive by welcoming and supporting all those in need in response to the message of Pope Francis, in The Joy of the Gospel, 33: "Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities."
There is a need to rethink our goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in becoming a more inclusive Church and to provide resources to train lay people. We are grateful to our benefactors who support our ministry and make a difference to the deaf community who would otherwise be shunned by society.
Lanieta Tamatawale is a Columban Lay Missionary working and living in the Philippines.
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