Because he was forced to express himself using signs to confess the Holy Trinity at the Second Ecumenical Council, when one of the heretics covered his mouth, the Holy Hierarch Meletius of Antioch, celebrated on February 12, is considered the patron saint of the hearing impaired and deaf people.
The deaf community of the Archdiocese of Bucharest prayed to Saint Meletius last Saturday, during the Divine Liturgy, at the Church of the Nativity of the Lord in Bucharest’s Ghencea neighbourhood. Father Eugen Bucur, the coordinator of the charity clergy in the diocese, celebrated the liturgy, having three other priests as concelebrants.
The entire service and sermon were translated into sign language by Father Mirel Ilie, the parish priest of the deaf community in the Archdiocese of Bucharest. Another person translated the hymns for the hearing impaired.
Even if it is difficult for them to say “I love you, mother, I love you, father” or a simple “I love you, Lord”, in their hearts, the people of this community are very open, said at the end of the service Fr. Eugen Bucur.
“They are welcoming and receptive people, and, moreover, responsible in the community by participating in services, but also in other activities that we carry out.”
“For several years now, this spectrum has begun to expand through more intense activities,” said the priest, recalling that the construction of the St. Meletius Social Centre for the deaf and hearing impaired is underway. “We have gone through all the bureaucracy and obtained the building permit for the new centre. Hopefully, with God’s help, we will also find a source of funding.”
The faithful who attended the Divine Liturgy received a cross, food packages and hot snacks at the end.
The deaf community in the Archdiocese of Bucharest consists of about 4000-5000 people. St Meletius Social Centre will be built on Doina Street in Bucharest’s Sector 5. Almost two thousand square meters will become “a small island of the deaf, in such a large world of listeners,” said Fr. Mirel Ilie in an interview with Basilica.ro.