Deaf Community

A Welcome Message from Fr Ian Byrnes

I welcome you with great joy to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community section of the diocesan website. The following information will help to create a new awareness of the work and contribution that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community brings to the life of our Diocese. Over the last 30 years, I have seen our community, fully supported by the Diocese, grow in confidence, courageously educating people across our family of faith to enable equal access to and inclusion in, the celebration of Mass and the sacraments using BSL (British Sign Language). I would like to warmly invite all those who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing within our Diocese to come and share the many talents that the Good Lord has given to them. May we continue also to pray for one another and to give Glory to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

You can read Fr Ian's 2024 New Year Message in full by clicking on the button below:

The Diocesan Deaf Service

The A&B Catholic Deaf Service is a pastoral service for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people across Surrey and Sussex. The Deaf Service aims to create awareness of the existence, and needs, of those who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, both in the Church and in society, encouraging the celebration of Mass and the sacraments on a regular basis, in a style appropriate to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community’s needs.  

The Deaf Service supports Deaf adults and children providing catechism so that they can access the sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, First Holy Communion, Confirmation and Marriage. Members of the Deaf Community also visit the sick at home, or in hospital and provide support with the preparation of funerals, to help meet communication needs.

You can contact the A&B Deaf Service by email or text message only (no telephone calls) M: 07970 428601.

BSL Mass in Horsham

British Sign Language (BSL) is a language in its own right and is formally recognised by the British Government. The Deaf Service is supported by two diocesan priests, Fr Ian Byrnes, the Deaf Service Director and Chaplain, and Fr Raglan Hay-Will, the Assistant Chaplain. The Deaf community meet to celebrate Mass in sign language (BSL) at 1pm on the first Saturday of each month, at St John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Horsham. Both Fr Ian and Fr Raglan can sign and alternate at the celebration of Mass each month (according to their availability).

To find out more about attending a BSL Mass or joining A&B’s Catholic Deaf and Hard of Hearing community please contact Maria Booker by email or text message only (no telephone calls) on M: 07970 428601.

Journeying on Pilgrimage to Lourdes

A&B’s Deaf community is a family of Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing people who support each other in sharing their faith using BSL for communication. The Deaf Service accompanied their first group of Deaf people to Lourdes in 1998, travelling on pilgrimage with a team of communicators. Since then, the Deaf community have joined the Catholic Deaf Association (CDA), and diocesan pilgrimages to Lourdes on a number of occasions.

The Deaf community use sign language to participate in all aspects of the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes with their own ‘Sign of God Lectionary for Deaf People’ adapted for easier signing and approved by the Bishops of England and Wales.

The community also have communication support in BSL, giving all those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing full access to the Word of God. You can find out more about the diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage here.

Further Resources

The following resources may be useful to members our Deaf and Hard of Hearing community - and hearing people. The Catholic Deaf Association website includes details of signed and interpreted Masses, with details of a range of events.

The Caritas Westminster Deaf Service website includes details of Deaf Awareness Sessions and Short Liturgical Sign Language courses which are suitable for beginners, with tips for communicating with people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, information on using a microphone and hearing loop and tips on working with a BSL interpreter.

Signs of Hope offers a Counselling Service for Deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing people, or for relatives of Deaf people who would like Deaf-Aware counselling. Counselling is available in BSL, SSE, Deafblind Manual Alphabet, Hands-on-Signing or spoken English. Counselling fees can be reduced, and Deaf people are usually eligible for funding to cover counselling fees. Click on the buttons below to find out more: