Fr. Joseph Bruce, SJ, one of the few priests in the world who has been deaf since childhood, ministers to a predominately deaf congregation in Landover, Maryland. Marlana Portolano, a member of the congregation, recently wrote in America about Fr. Joe’s eloqunce as a preacher.
“How many senses do you have?” he asks. Most have four, and a couple of deaf-blind individuals have only three and use tactile interpreters. “What do you think is the most important sense?” he continues. People respond “Hearing!” or “Seeing!” But “touch,” Father Joe preaches, “is the most important sense.” His poetic signs amply demonstrate the point. The baby (rocking motion of the arms) feels the closeness of the mother’s body (hands touch his torso). The touch of Jesus heals the blind man (hands wipe the eyes and show us “open”).