The Catholic Church in Ghana has welcomed the first-ever Deaf Mission Apostolate with the launch of St. Martin Deaf Ministry and Rev. Fr. Dan Yao Kouame Rene, SMA, as the priest in charge.
The project was unveiled under the auspices of the Society of African Missions (SMA) at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Ashaley Botwe, Accra Sunday 22 November 2020.The move paved way for the celebration of Holy Mass in Ghanaian Sign Language (GSL).
In an interview with Radio Angelus’ El-Khaphui Moody, Rev. Fr. René explained that St Martin Deaf Ministry was born out of a genuine need to minister with and for the deaf based on a love mission mandate given to Christians by our Lord Jesus. The priest stated that it was in Liberia that the voice of God resonated inside him on the extreme need to address the existing gap in the ministration with and for the deaf.
Rev. Fr. Rene recounted his inability with his colleague, Rev. Fr. Gerard Koffi, to teach catechism to the hearing impaired during their pastorals in 2013 at Mary’s Meals, a Liberian-based local NGO
“My passion to minister to the Deaf community came out of a big failure. In fact, I literally failed to minister to the Deaf community in Liberia,” he said.
The man of God added that in their desire to reach out to the hearing impaired, they sought the assistance of one Solomon, a teacher, and sign language expert to translate their teachings into the Liberian Sign Language. However, the experience activated a hunger in him to learn the Liberian Sign Language and to be an advocate for the hearing impaired.
Fr. Rene also had the opportunity to learn the Kenyan Sign Language for pastoral ministry as part of his four-year theological course in the Tangaza University College in Kenya
As a deacon, Fr. René was known to have organized the very first interpreted Mass in Kenyan Sign Language for the hearing-impaired.
After his ordination on June 23, 2018, Fr. René was posted to Ghana. With passion for touching the lives of the non-hearing, Father René constantly visited Akuapem Mampong Senior High and Technical School for the Deaf to get himself acquainted with the Ghanaian Sign Language (GSL).
This enabled him to come up with a manual for the celebration of Mass in the Ghanaian Sign Language. The work becomes the first known Sign Language document on the celebration of Mass in Ghana.
Source: Radio Angelus