Please note: Our legal name is Mark Seven- Depaul House of Studies while our religious name is Dominican Missionaries.
THE DOMINICAN MISSIONARIES FOR THE APOSTOLATES OF THE DEAF AND DISABLED
A vocation to religious life is difficult. Many people think that by joining a religious community a person is escaping the world and all of its troubles. The reality, however, is much different. We are not running from the world, but running toward it. Religious communities, whether of men or of women, exist to run to those in trouble that we might be a listening ear and an understanding heart. We are called to be in the world, embracing people, and remain unaffected by the sin and corruption in the world. This alone requires a delicate balance, an active prayer life, and a great deal of support.
This calling, indeed, this vocation is even more focused for us. Our ministry is primarily focused around those who are Deaf and/or otherwise disabled. These marginalized groups of society are often marginalized even more in our churches. Imagine attending Mass in German, Gaelic, French, or another unfamiliar language. Many of us would imagine that we would continue to attend Mass whether we understood the language or not. Imagine, however, that this continues for months or even years. You would have no access to the words of God. Even when you ask the Pastor for an interpreter, excuses are among the first responses: Interpreters are too expensive; interpreters are distracting; we just don't do that at this church... and on and on. These are among the heartbreaking excuses that pastors tell Deaf people everyday.
The truth is: interpreters are expensive. This is the main reason that we are training men to be able to communicate directly with Deaf people though American Sign Language (ASL). These brothers and priests are able to minister to the sick in hospitals, give absolution after confession, tend to the flock in their own parish, and educate their people through spiritual retreats. These priests and brothers are able to do this for the Deaf directly, without the use of interpreters.
There is one key difference between us and almost all other communities. We do not only minister to Deaf and disabled people, we also accept them as brothers in community. We welcome Deaf vocations and are willing to pay for interpreters for their education toward priesthood. We welcome those who are disabled in other ways and work so that they have the accessibility and mobility features they need in our community. We try to make sure that all are able to feel safe in a place where they feel at home.
Challenges we face
Life is never without its challenges. However, we show our character in how we face our challenges. We are a small, recently formed community. Almost all of our current members are still studying philosophy and theology. Ordination to the Priesthood requires a Masters of Divinity Degree (M. Div). The requirements for this degree continue to grow. The M. Div. Program currently requires at least four years of graduate study. Classes include topics such as: preaching, scripture, church history, christology, practicums, canon law, and many others. Meanwhile, the costs of this education continues to rise. It now costs nearly $60,000 per student. Interpreters for Deaf students can add another $50,000. This is just to educate one brother for only graduate studies.
Despite being students, a few of us also hold part time jobs within deaf ministry or at a parish or diocesan ministry. Additionally, while many communities hire people to do everything in the house, we try to save as much money as we can by doing what we can ourselves. We are blessed to have brothers who are skilled in computers, building maintenance and repair, cooking, cleaning, organization, etc. (We still lack a brother skilled as an automotive mechanic.) It has seemed that recently, the things that have broken down has been beyond our ability to repair ourselves. As we all know, calling a professional can be expensive, especially for larger jobs.
Ways to Give
If you would like to send a check, it can be made out to "Dominican Missionaries" and mailed to 1011 Alton Ave. Madison, IL 62060. If you would like to donate via Paypal, you can use any credit/debit card or directly draft from your bank account. PayPal also allows recurring (monthly) donations. To do this, just press the "Donate" button below. We understand that it is sometimes not possible for people to give monetary or financial assistance. However, If you are able to offer your skilled labor or ask your company to donate furniture, cars, or services, we certainly would be happy for this assistance. Even when these are not possible, we humbly ask your prayers for us and that you may work to welcome the Deaf and otherwise disabled in your parish and city. We pray for our benefactors every day during Mass and evening prayers in our community Chapel.