Sister’s Work with the Deaf in Macau Honored

downloadMaryknoll, NY  —  Maryknoll Sister Arlene Trant was honored for her many years of service to the hearing impaired in Macao, China, by the Macau Special Administrative Region at a special ceremony held December 15, 2014 at the Macau Cultural Center. Sister Arlene received the Medical of Merits on Altruism from the Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region, Fernando Chui Sai On.

“When I arrived in Macao in 1982, there were very few services for the Deaf,” Sister Arlene recalled recently in an interview with Ponto Final, a daily newspaper of Macau.  Realizing that the main barrier that the Deaf face is communication, she decided to begin offering sign language classes for hearing people, so they could learn sign language and become a bridge between the hearing and Deaf world.   “I wanted to create conditions that would bring understanding and friendship between those who could hear and those who could not,” she explained.   So with the help of a small group of Deaf people she started the first sign language class in Macau.  From that first class was born the volunteer group called “Macau Deaf and Hearing Association”, which organized activities and services for the Deaf.

In 1986 the Macau Social Welfare Department approached Sr. Arlene and asked her to begin a sheltered workshop for the Deaf and physically handicapped.  This workshop was jointly sponsored by the Macau government and the Diocese of Macau.  In addition to vocational training and job placement, this center offered social services and adult education for the Deaf, as well as, language training for pre-school Deaf children, and audiological services.   From those modest beginnings, has developed a much enriched network of services for the hearing impaired.

She also does pastoral outreach to the Deaf.  Together with a group of three Deaf and five hearing Catholics they interpret Sunday Mass for the Deaf at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Macau. This group meets weekly not only to prepare the Sunday Mass readings, but also to plan retreats, and RCIA classes, etc., so that Macau Deaf can also “hear” the Good News of God’s Love.

Photo used with permission of Cláudia Aranda/Ponto Final