American Sign Language as a Catholic pastoral language
Here, I want to suggest, however, another language option, one with extensive pastoral applications, namely, American Sign Language (ASL). Consider:
* ASL is the first language of over 500,000 Deaf Americans; some two to three million more persons use ASL regularly, making ASL the most common foreign language in America after Spanish.
* Fewer than 5% of Deaf Americans regularly attend a church (let alone a Catholic church) primarily because language barriers inhibit evangelization, catechesis, and liturgical participation.
* Recent advances in ASL linguistics and modern communications technologies make learning ASL easier than ever; Deaf ministry programs are now available to train hearing persons with competence in ASL for effective collaboration with the Deaf.
* College level ASL classes are offered throughout the United States and much of Canada. ASL is recognized as a foreign language by well over 200 American colleges and universities, and opportunities for face-to-face and on-line tutorial assistance are plentiful.
I hope more hearing students will give ASL some consideration when it's time to decide on their "pastoral language". The need is great; the rewards are amazing!