FEATURE: Sisters for the Deaf and Mute
The Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Mission For the Deaf founded by Ven. Joseph Gualandi in Bologna Italy who was a diocesan priest who dreamed to become a missionary in a far away lands. But God showed to him hi s specific mission. It was July 8 1849 during the celebration of the First Holy Communion of the group of children which among them was a 20 year old deaf girl. During that celebration God revealed to him his specific mission to preach the gospel to the deaf. From that time on he committed himself totally to God for the Education and Evangelization for the deaf because he felt that the deaf is a person who, because of his deafness have difficulties to receive the gospel. He immediately started looking for the deaf in their neighboring houses until their homes could not accommodate them all. So he started put up dormitory and school. The mission spread to different countries.
Sr Sheryl Guatiz SLMD doing the sign language during the livestreaming of the mass at the Archdiocese of Caceres
The Sisters of the Little Mission for the Deaf (SLMD) started in this Southeast Asian Country is a wonderful story of obedience to God’s call.
When Sr. Clarisinda Cagang, (now serving as SLMD Superior) was a young student in the Philippines, she heard an inspiring talk on vocation by a priest from the Gualandi Fathers of Italy. She immediately sent her application letter to the Gualandi Fathers in Italy. That letter was then forwarded to the Suore Della Piccolla Missione (Sisters of the Little Mission for the Deaf.) This congregation was later instructed by the Vatican to go to the Philippines and make a new home for their mission and ministry there.
Thus on October 30, 1988, the first missionary nuns were sent to the Philippines to set up the congregation in the persons of SR. ELENA DI SERAFINO and SR. ANTOINNETTE TEGON. To assist them was FR. SAVINO CASTIGLIONE (now serving as Superior General).
The SLMD community was first established in Las Piñas City and later expanded to Cebu City in the South and Naga City in the North. Over the years, their simplicity and joy in their work have attracted many friends who have helped them in big and small ways, from finding a place to call home, to providing the day to day things they needed, their noble projects like putting up a school for the deaf and an audiology clinic, gathering the deaf - old and young alike, to care for them and love them the way Christ did.
In Naga City
The establishment of a mission in Naga was through the invitation of then Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi. In March 2002, the sisters began their work among the deaf in the Bicol Region at a residence near the Archbishop’s Palace, gathering hearing impaired persons, including those they had met in other places around in Bicol peninsula on earlier visits. The nuns taught catechism and basic literacy to the deaf using sign language.
The deaf community with the sisters
A tutorial-formation center was then formally opened in Balatas Road. It started off with 10 students and, yearly thereafter, has had an increase in the number of students.
Today, several years after the Congregation set foot in the region in 2002, its advocacy to help educate the deaf has persevered, teaching catechism and basic literacy in remote Bicol towns. Likewise, the erstwhile tutorial center in Naga City had flourished, growing in size to become - the Joseph Gualandi School for the Hearing Impaired.
With the construction of a building in Balatas Road finished, Joseph Gualandi School for Hearing Impaired was formally opened. Teaching the deaf children to speak and Lip read. At present we have 45 students from Nursery to Grade 6 located at Zone 4, Balatas Naga City.
For inquiries contact 09182813370 / Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. -Sr. Nora Patlonag