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International Catholic Deaf Association


The International Catholic Deaf Association (ICDA) was founded in 1949 in Toronto, Canada, by deaf people from Buffalo, Detroit, and Toronto at the first Congress of the Catholic Deaf. They worked with ten priests to lay plans for an international organization. James Cardinal McGuigan, then archbishop of Toronto, gave the project his approval. From these initial efforts came the ICDA. It has constituent memberships in the United States, France, Ireland, and elsewhere. The United States affiliate began in 1987 at Hartford, Connecticut, but officers were not elected until 1989 at the business convention in Portland, Oregon. A constitution was adopted for the United States in July 1991, in Cleveland, Ohio.

The purpose of the ICDA is to promote cultural, spiritual, and social union among deaf and hard-of-hearing Catholics through the teachings and principles of the Catholic faith. The ICDA engages in work relative to the educational, social, and moral advancement of deaf people and acts as a means for public advocacy on behalf of the deaf. Since 1986, the ICDA has had biennial "Workshop Conventions" to further the deaf apostolate. These have been designed to incorporate more fully those deaf people called to ministry and leadership in various ecclesial contexts.

The membership of the ICDA-U.S. comprises local chapters and individual members. Each chapter is self-governing and operates under the constitution and bylaws of the ICDA-U.S. In 2001 there were 108 local chapters scattered among six regions. ICDA-U.S. is governed by the membership and a six-member elected Board of Directors consisting of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Chaplain, and immediate Past President. With the possible exception of the Chaplain, all officers are deaf. The worldwide organization has an official English publication, The Deaf Catholic. Membership in the ICDA-U.S. is open to all Catholic deaf people and to hearing people who are interested in working with deaf Catholics.

Bibliography: The De Sales Project Report, Eye Centered: A Study of the Spirituality of Deaf People with Implications for Pastoral Ministry (Silver Spring, Maryland 1992). c. padden and t. humphries, Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (Cambridge, Massachusetts 1988). An uncatalogued archive of materials related to the deaf, including the ICDA and its United States affiliate, is located at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

[p. j. hayes]

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