A special confirmation at St. Rita School for the Deaf
By Eileen Connelly, OSU
A profoundly deaf teenager from Mexico is now receiving the education and the spiritual formation he and his parents dreamed of for many years. Roberto, a student at St. Rita School for the Deaf, was confirmed by Bishop Joseph R. Binzer on April 13 during a Mass at the school.
The Mass was interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL) for St. Rita students, and in Spanish for Roberto’s parents and confirmation sponsor.
“It was a blessing to meet Roberto and his family,” Bishop Binzer said. “The confirmation ceremony was grace-filled. Everyone was smiling. God is good!!”
“It was a very emotional and happy occasion,” said Graciela Noguez, Roberto’s mother.
“St. Rita students and staff were happy to be a part of Roberto’s confirmation,” said Angie Frith, associate executive director at St. Rita. “With months of preparation, it is exciting to see Roberto take the next step in his Catholic faith. Through the grace and gifts of the Holy Spirit, we know Roberto will continue to grow in God’s love and serve Christ by serving others through his daily actions.”
Via an interpreter, Noguez explained that she left Mexico for the United States to seek a job when Roberto was just 10 years old. The family had struggled to make ends meet, finding programs for the deaf weren’t readily available in Mexico, and those they could find were expensive and of poor quality. Noguez knew the best chances for her son to develop the ability to communicate were outside of Mexico, so she worked for six years in order to earn enough money to bring Roberto and his father to Cincinnati. During that time, she applied for citizenship and travel visas for her husband and son.
Because of his hearing loss, Roberto did not attend school in Mexico and had no language skills when the family arrived in Cincinnati. Due to the language barriers, Roberto could not be immersed in St. Rita’s regular high school classrooms. Fortunately, school staff found a profoundly deaf adult from Mexico who knew both Mexican Sign Language and ASL, and could tutor Roberto in both communication and social skills.
Roberto’s mother is currently being tutored in sign language so that she can communicate with him, and he is teaching his father at home. “Before coming to St. Rita, Roberto would sit and wait for someone to tell him to do something,” Noguez said. “Now he is much more independent. When he comes home from school, he stays busy around the house. I am very happy Roberto is attending St. Rita and receiving the education he needs.”
“I get to learn new vocabulary and keep adding new vocabulary every day,” Roberto commented.