Deaf community holds signed Stations of the Cross

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | March 16, 2016

GREEN BAY — Praying the Stations of the Cross is a popular Lenten activity for Catholics, but for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, it can be a difficult, sometimes impossible challenge to follow along with the story of Jesus’ Passion.

Members of the deaf community use sign language to participate in the Stations of the Cross held March 11 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Green Bay. The signed Stations of the Cross have been held during Lent for about 10 years. In addition to using American Sign Language, a voice interpreter recites the stations for people who do not know American Sign Language. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)
Members of the deaf community use sign language to participate in the Stations of the Cross held March 11 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Green Bay. The signed Stations of the Cross have been held during Lent for about 10 years. In addition to using American Sign Language, a voice interpreter recites the stations for people who do not know American Sign Language. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

About 10 years ago, the deaf community in the Diocese of Green Bay began holding “Deaf Stations of the Cross” at St. John the Evangelist Church in Green Bay. Using American Sign Language, community members take turns presenting the meditations and prayers that make up the stations. This year, they used a booklet that offered Mary’s perspective of Jesus’ journey to the cross, according to Jean Laux, director for Deaf Ministry at St. John the Evangelist Parish.

About 20 people turned out for the Deaf Stations of the Cross on March 11. Images of each station were projected onto a screen in the church sanctuary.

Tammy Schmidt interprets an opening prayer during Stations of the Cross for the deaf community. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)
Tammy Schmidt interprets an opening prayer during Stations of the Cross for the deaf community. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

“We do not move from station to station because it is too hard to see the person signing,” explained Laux, who is deaf. “We need to have a clear sightline.” The stations are also voice interpreted for people who do not know American Sign Language.

The Deaf Stations of the Cross are held only once during Lent, said Laux, because people travel long distances to attend.

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