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For deaf Catholics, a gesture from Pope Francis meant the world

Pope Francis communicated more with one hand on June 27 than many in the audience had seen in a long time from a church leader. With a smile on his face and his right arm raised in the air, Francis placed his two middle fingers in his palms and signed “I love you.” It was a message for the dozens of young people from North America and Central America who are both Catholic and deaf, and one that has made the life’s work of the Rev. Joseph Mulcrone well worth it.

A priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Father Mulcrone has been working with deaf Catholics for four decades and said that introducing Catholics who often feel marginalized in the church to the pope ranks at the top of his career.

“When the pope came down, he went to every person who was in our group, every young person who was in our group. I can’t tell you what that felt like,” Father Mulcrone told America from Italy. “There’s an old prayer,” he said, recalling the Song of Simeon, which includes the line, “My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people.”