David Parker (Manager at The Ephpheta Centre) Shares His Journey in Auslan

Hi I am David Parker I have been with Ephpheta for 7 years. I became a Catholic last year and I am a proud Catholic. I am still a rookie. My deaf wife and my hearing daughters are all Catholics. I use Auslan – the sign language of the deaf community in Australia. It is my language that I use to express myself fully and participate wholly in society.

I have a lovely interpreter here, Nicole, who is very experienced in spoken English to Auslan and Auslan to spoken English translation. She is also an experienced Catholic interpreter and familiar with Catholic signs for the Australian deaf community. She is a fully trained paid interpreter – Nicole is a member of our Ephpheta staff. Ephpheta engages trained professional Auslan interpreters for our daily work at Ephpheta and other events that the deaf people attend, such as Mass services and pilgrimages for example.
A bit about myself. I am the manager of community at the Ephpheta Centre. I am a deaf person from birth. There are no deaf members in my immediate family but I have found an Auslan interpreter from Brisbane, a nun, and about 8 deaf people in my extended family as well as more than 12 convicts. Quite a few naughty cousins way back! Basically we are all “cousins” in a way. One humanity. Difference races. Different ways of life. Different languages. Different abilities.

The Ephpheta Centre is the Catholic Centre for Deaf People in Sydney and we are located in Punchbowl. We are an agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Dioceses of Parramatta and Broken Bay respectively. We provide pastoral care and support to deaf and hard of hearing people. The work of our Centre mostly supports people who are deaf and who use Auslan. There are many different deaf people living in Parramatta and in the West. Many of my team members here, most of which are profoundly deaf, are from Sydney West. We are the only Catholic organisation for deaf people in NSW.

We have many successful projects, especially Mass services and special pilgrim tours, Deaf Cafe events in Sydney, Penrith, Central Coast and Milperra, Deaf Youth Sydney program in collaboration with Deaf Society and various social events, Deaf Mens Outings, Deaf Womens’ Outings, Ladies Craft on every Wednesday and a monthly computer workshop.

As an organisation, we are proudly Catholic but we will provide support for any deaf or hard of hearing person. Much of our work is religious in nature – we provide Mass, marriage support, sacramental preparation and support for funerals. But a lot of our work is pastoral – Jesus tells us through the Gospels to go and help others. We do this every day in our work at Ephpheta.

We do a lot of pastoral care work. We visit deaf inmates in jails. I am sure that everyone here knows how isolating it can be for all people if we are sick, in hospital or in a nursing home. Imagine how isolating it would be to be deaf as well – you cannot talk with the nurses or the staff, and you cannot talk to the people around you. Also being a deaf person in jail is very isolating. We have very regular visits to nursing homes and hospitals to visit and support sick and invalid deaf people. There are also many isolated deaf people living in their homes alone throughout Sydney, especially Western Sydney.

So we are very excited to have an enhanced relationship with the Parramatta Diocese and we wish Parramatta Catholic Foundation a very successful future.

We dedicated to serving the wider community with wide open arms. We work very hard to make a difference in people’s lives. We are very proud to carry on God’s work.

Thank you very much for your support and for the opportunity to tell you a little about the work of The Ephpheta Centre.

Peace be with you all.