05/07/2024, 17.01
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Fr Thermadom, India's first deaf-mute priest, ordained in Kerala

by Nirmala Carvalho

The 38-year-old member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross graduated from college in Mumbai before embracing the religious life. The new priest told AsiaNews: “My vocation and mission as a priest are to provide all the Sacraments in the Indian Sign Language to all deaf Catholics in India” as well as “support God calling” them to the religious life.

Thrissur (AsiaNews) – Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhath ordained Deacon Joseph Thermadom, who is deaf and speech-impaired, a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Thrissur (Kerala).

According to Indian sources, Fr Thermadom, 38, is the first Indian with this disability to join the country’s Catholic clergy, the second in Asia, and the 26th in the world. The ordination ceremony took place last Thursday in the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The new priest leads the liturgy by praying in sign language. “My vocation and mission as a priest are to provide all the Sacraments in the Indian Sign Language to all deaf Catholics in India. I also support God calling deaf people to the priesthood and religious life.”

For the new clergyman, “everyone should remember the positive view in the Bible about deaf people.” As Leviticus (19:14) says: “You shall not insult the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you shall fear your God”.

In India some 60 million people have some form of speech and hearing impairments.

Born deaf and speech-impaired, Fr Thermadom is the son of Thomas and Rosy. Together with his brother, who is also hearing impaired, he studied in Mumbai where he obtained a BSc before embracing the religious life.

He pursued his religious training with the Dominican Missionaries for the Deaf Apostolate in the United States before returning to India where he met the Fathers of the Holy Cross through their ministry to the deaf.

After expressing the desire to join their ministry, he was welcomed into the Aymanam community in 2017.

He made his first profession in 2020 at the Novitiate of the Holy Cross in Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, and by August he became the first deaf person to make his final profession in the congregation.

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