Fr Cyril on a mission to change attitudes
|Fr Cyril Axelrod CSsR with Community Worker Danni Wright who is deaf and an interpreter with The Ephpheta Centre. Photo: The Catholic Weekly/Sharyn McCowen.|
By Steve Pringle, Catholic Outlook, September 2012
Father Cyril Axelrod CSsR is a Londoner. Unremarkably, he lives alone on the third floor of a block of flats. Remarkably though, he is deaf-blind. He is visited by a guide, (not a carer) on a weekly basis so that when they go shopping there is someone to read the labels and tell him how much the utility bills are and, importantly, when they need to be paid!
Otherwise, he is very independent and to maintain that independence he uses technology such as a braille machine, an iPhone and a doorbell accessory that vibrates to tell him that someone is at the front door.
Father Axelrod is the only deaf-blind priest in the world. For the past 42 years he has been a priest of the Redemptorist order, whose mission is preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially among people at the margins of our society; the deaf and blind often fit that category.
Recently, he visited CatholicCare Social Services, Diocese of Parramatta at the invitation of the Executive Director, Otto Henfling, and shared his inspiring message with us.
Father Axelrod has much in common with St Paul – both were Orthodox Jews who heard God's call and took the step from Judaism to Christianity. Both, too, were on a mission. Father Axelrod’s is to change attitudes so that people who are trying to help, actually ask disabled persons what they want rather than deciding for them … Just as Jesus did.
When Jesus met the blind man in Mark 10, He didn't simply restore his sight out of immediate compassion. Instead, he asked the blind man:
‘What you want me to do?’
‘Teacher, I wish to see,’ said the blind man. And so it was.
This example is as relevant today as it was then.
To Fr Axelrod his disability is an opportunity. He does take time to smell the roses and appreciates their fragrance and texture and so much of God’s world. He believes it is God's purpose to have diversity in our abilities and disabilities.
Father Axelrod has made a difference in many ways:
Father Axelrod left us with enduring messages:
“We are called to be witnesses that can change attitudes.”
“True charity is not an obligation but is about change that makes the world a better place.”For further information go to: http://cyrilaxelrod.wordpress.com/
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