Sad but hopeful with good reason

Posted on: February 6, 2019 12:00 pm

A sign is at the entrance of the SND meeting rooms indicating the availability of a t-coil looping system.

Sister Mary Janet Stamm shares her experience with hearing loss in this article originally published in The Messenger and encourages pastors to consider how they can adapt their buildings to accommodate those with hearing loss. 

Recently I was with family members for a special celebration of Mass. After Mass we shared some refreshments and enjoyed socializing. During this time I heard from a number of people that they could not hear what was being said during Mass. When I thought of the group gathered I realized how many were hearing impaired and make use of hearing aids. Still, they could not understand what was being said. I, also, fit into this group so I understand very well their frustrations and disappointments. 

I firmly believe that in many or most of our parishes there are many, many people who either have a very difficult time hearing the homily, prayers and announcements or are not able to understand at all what is being said. This makes me very sad. I do know what this means because I cannot understand what is being said in all the churches I have been in and this is even with my hearing aids.

I really do want to understand and know what is being said. I want to be nourished with the Word of God and the homily.

It becomes very exhausting trying to grasp even a few words and make some sense of what is being said. I know that many other people also come to our parishes wanting to be nourished by God's Word and the homily but leave Mass disappointed because they have not understood what was said.

Still, I have hope that things can change. Technology is advancing and help is available to assist those with hearing impairment. One of the advances is called "looping." This involves special wiring of a room or space and the provision of a small electronic box. Those with hearing aids provided with a t-coil can adjust their aids so that the sounds from the microphone go directly to their hearings aids and they are able to hear and understand.

I am writing this to beg pastors and parish council to care about the many people in their parish who are not able to understand what is being said because of hearing impairment. Looping does involve a cost but it is well worth the cost if people can come to Mass and be nourished by God's Word, the Eucharistic prayers and the homily.

I challenge the pastors and parish leaders to take a survey of how many people in the pews really are not able to understand what is being said because of hearing impairment. I have hope because I know something can change for the better.

P.S. Since writing this article I have taken steps to do something to enable me to hear (better). I have been blessed to have a cochlear implant. I had only 8% hearing in my left ear and now I can hear in a new, wonderful way many sounds I have not heard in a very long time. How good God is and what wonders technology can bring about.

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