International Catholic Foundation (ICF) and National Chaplaincy for Deaf People (NCDP) are most thankful to the International Eucharistic Congress 2012 for providing this first ever IEC Deaf Track 2012 to Deaf Pilgrims attending the IEC. This took place from 14th–17th June 2012 in RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. This was a real opportunity where Deaf People had a part to play throughout the week through workshops, activities and interaction. There were 150 Deaf people from different parts of the world, where eight different Sign Languages interpreters were used within the Deaf Community.
The theme throughout was ‘The Eucharist: In Communion with Christ and With One Another’ DEAF TRACK IEC started with an Opening Mass said by Archbishop Patrick Kelly, Chairperson of ICF, in Dublin City University (DCU) Interfaith centre, Glasnevin, and afterwards, with a welcome Wine & Cheese reception for all delegates.
This was a perfect start to get to know the other Deaf Pilgrims. There were Deaf & Hearing Professionals involved with the Deaf Community coming from Mexico, Korea, America, England, Australia, Germany and Ireland who gave their presentations over the three days to a wider community for the first time. Many were inspired by their stories and came away with a sense of hope. This enabled us all to enjoy, communicate and reflect throughout the week of the IEC 2012:
The week started with an Opening Ceremony at which the Dublin Deaf Choir participated at the Mass in RDS, Ballsbridge. Throughout the week, there was a real buzz in the air with Deaf volunteers working in the same capacity as the hearing volunteers, in the RDS arena. The delegations of tasks went very well in RDS, Ballsbridge and in DCU in Glasnevin with excellent team work in both places. There were common threads of interests for all Deaf Pilgrims throughout the week. For many, this was a new experience, and they thoroughly enjoyed the presentations given to them in the Sign Language of their country and many came away feeling renewed, and hopeful for what’s to come in the future. On the social side, many delegates were very complimentary about moving theatrical story through Irish Sign Language given by Dublin Deaf Theatre actors/ actress. Many Deaf people were involved in preparatory time in sharing their skills in making homemade costumes, and beautifully handmade props, & artwork for backdrops.
On the final day, many Day Pilgrims as well as the Delegates enjoyed the Statio Orbis ceremony in Croke Park. Alongside well known hearing presenters, we had the pleasure of seeing Deaf performers from St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls, with their School Teacher, participating at the closing ceremony in Croke Park. This was followed by a great finale of a celebratory BBQ feast in Deaf Club Drumcondra and CEILI social night.
Over 300 people were at it and towards the end the night, there was a ‘silent auction’… a new idea coming from the Australian delegate who offered to do the auction to support the NCDP and he did it with charm and humour. He was selling off IEC spare sets of volunteer kit which consisted of T- shirt, signed by all Deaf Religious (who came for IEC, from various parts of the world) bun bag, lanyards, back pack bag.) And one Irish dancer even auctioned the costume on the spur of the moment! In total, we fundraised €700 euro from these simple items.
This was surely a memorable week for one and all.