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Boston to host national deaf Catholic conference

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BOSTON -- The Archdiocese of Boston's Deaf Apostolate will host the 2012 National Catholic Office for the Deaf Pastoral Week beginning Jan. 13 at the Hilton in Back Bay.

The five-day event ends on Jan. 17 with a closing Mass with Father Chris Klusman, one of only nine deaf priests in the United States. Another of those nine, Father Shawn Carey, archdiocesan assistant director for the Deaf Apostolate, will celebrate Mass and give a presentation about World Youth Day.

"We're very thrilled to have the opportunity to have the conference here," Father Carey said, through an American Sign Language interpreter.

The organization's director at the Pastoral Center, Father Jeremy St. Martin, and Father Carey said the Deaf Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Boston is ready and enthusiastic to highlight the work done in the city for the deaf community.

"There is a lot of history of the deaf community in the Catholic Ministries here in Boston, a lot of longevity. It's just a wonderful community to be hosting this event," Father Carey said.

For the conference, guests and speakers will come in from all over the country to speak on a variety of topics.

National Catholic Office for the Deaf episcopal representative, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., will open the event with a Mass at St. Francis Chapel, before a welcome reception at Fenway Park.

"For this particular convention, one of our main goals is for all the different dioceses to have the deaf ministers and the deaf people that are worshiping to really support each other. So, our primary goal is to have the networking of the deaf community here, because there are many deaf ministers in the office that are a little bit isolated," Father Carey said.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley will celebrate Mass on Jan. 14 for the participants at Sacred Heart Church in Newton, which celebrates an American Sign Language Mass with voice interpretation every Sunday.

"There will be Mass, and a lot of prayer together, which is of course also very important," Father Carey said.

Former director of the archdiocese's Deaf Apostolate Office Father Mike Medas will give a presentation called "Empowering Deaf Leadership" on Jan. 15.

Also that day, Father Carey will lead a panel presenting the experience of the Boston Deaf Catholic youth at the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid.

"We are really encouraging other districts to join us for the next World Youth Day," Father Carey said.

A banquet and award ceremony will close out the weekend.

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