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National leader sees signs of hope

NCR Staff

Arvilla Rank, deaf since age 8, has been executive director of the National Catholic Office for the Deaf for three years. Rank holds a degree in business administration from St. Norbert’s College in DePere, Wis., a master’s degree in business education from the University of Wisconsin, and another from the same university in special education with a focus on deaf education.

Except for the latter degree, all her education was completed without an interpreter for the deaf. Nonetheless, we used an interpreter during an NCR interview when Rank discussed her three major goals for the office she heads.

The first aim is to raise the money to continue the award-winning videos on preparation for the Catholic sacraments. The initial one, “My First Eucharist,” completed at a cost of $50,000, became available in 1999.

Rank said work is beginning on the second video, about the sacrament of reconciliation, though she has about half the $100,000 she needs. She hopes the funding will come.

Her second major goal, she said, is raising awareness of the needs of the deaf and hearing-impaired population, especially by encouraging more people to become involved in deaf ministry; her third, continue the annual Pastoral Weeks for the Deaf. One took place Jan.13-17 on the theme of spirituality for the deaf in Austin, Texas. The National Catholic Office for the Deaf is represented at annual religious education conferences.

Signs of hope Rank points to include more deaf persons learning to advocate for the deaf community, “which leads to deaf people themselves being in charge.” Technology, such as TTY (text telephone), Internet, TV decoders and e-mail are “playing a large part in these changes,” she said.


National Catholic Office for the Deaf, 7202 Buchanan St., Landover Hills MD 20784.
TTY: (301) 577-4184
Voice mail: (301) 577-1684
Fax: (301) 577-1690
E-mail: ncod@erols.com

Holy Angels Church of the Deaf, 4433 Santa Fe Ave., Vernon CA 90058.
TDD (telecommunications devices for the deaf): (323) 587-0397
Voice mail: (323) 587-2096
E-mail: hlyangl@aol.com

National Catholic Reporter, January 19, 2001