by Fr Mark James OP
Three members of the Catholic Deaf Community in the diocese of Manzini travelled with Fr Mark James and Sibusiso Zulu to attend a leadership conference at the Bosco Youth Centre near Johannesburg from 10-13 December 2109. Khetsiwe Mkhatjwa, Nqobile Mkhonta and Bhekisisa Dlamini were part of a group of twelve young people at the course. The others came from South Africa and Lesotho. The meeting was facilitated by Mokene Matsau, a Deaf youth leader studying at the National Teachers’ Training College (NTTC) in Lesotho, and Carmen Kuscus, a Deaf youth trainer from the Deaf Community of Cape Town (DCCT).
The youth leaders were given an opportunity to reflect on the experience of Deaf youth in South Africa, Lesotho and Eswatini at present. What are their needs and struggles? Then they were encouraged to get the youth reflecting on Scripture as they prepared different dramatic productions based on a scripture passage. Fr Mark James OP challenged the youth leaders to face their own fears and anxieties by taking them through the ‘Way of Light’ and encouraged them that Jesus is a companion who accompanies us along the journey of faith and gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us to guide us and teach us how to continue his mission among Deaf youth.
The facilitators also had the youth playing games like the knot where they had to untangle themselves without letting go. As Carmen Kuscus explained: ‘When one does not give up but rather places one’s trust in Jesus, you can be untangled from any knot of life.’
The youth members were taught about the significance of the Eucharist and Mokene Matsau reminded them that Deaf youth need to be inspired by Jesus’ words: ‘Remember me’ in whatever they are doing in life.
Lucas Magongwa, a senior lecturer in sign language at the Centre for Deaf Education at Wits University and a member of the Soweto community, gave the youth a word of encouragement. In closing, Faith Cronwright the Deaf Catholic president reminded the young people they are the Church of the future, they have been entrusted with sharing the task of evangelising other Deaf youth by the example of their lives and encouraging them to return to church and join the Catholic Deaf youth group.