Feast of Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle (August 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle

Images in the Public Domain

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THOMAS GALLAUDET (JUNE 3, 1822-AUGUST 27, 1902)

Episcopal Priest and Educator of the Deaf

mentor of

HENRY WINTER SYLE (NOVEMBER 9, 1846-JANUARY 6, 1890)

Episcopal Priest and Educator of the Deaf

First Deaf Man Ordained in The Episcopal Church

August 27 is the joint feast of Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle in The Episcopal Church.

The Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851) and his wife, Sophia Fowler Gallaudet (1798-1877) were pioneers in the education of deaf people in the United States of America.  In 1817 he helped to found and became the principal of the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons, now the American School for the Deaf, West Hartford, Connecticut.  He was the Gallaudet of Gallaudet University, founded in 1856 as the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind, Washington, D.C., in 1856, and renamed the National Deaf-Mute College eight years later then Gallaudet College in 1894.  Sophia was one of the leading advocates for the college charter; she served as the first matron of the college.  One of their sons, Edward Miner Gallaudet (1837-1917), was the superintendent (1856-1864) and president (1864-1910).

Thomas Gallaudet was another child of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Sophia Fowler Gallaudet.  Our saint, born in Hartford Connecticut, on June 3, 1822, became a teacher of deaf-mutes.  He, after graduating from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, in 1842, taught in a rural school for a year.  Next Gallaudet taught at the New York Institution for Deaf-Mutes.  He cared deeply about the spiritual lives of deaf-mutes.

Therefore he pioneered church accessibility for deaf people in the United States of America.  Gallaudet, married to Elizabeth Budd, who was deaf, became an Episcopal deacon in 1850.  He, assigned to St. Stephen’s Church, New York City, founded a Bible class for deaf-mutes.  As a priest (from 1851) and as the assistant at St. Ann’s Church, New York City, our saint continued to work with deaf people.  He founded St. Ann’s Church for Deaf-Mutes in 1852.  Two decades later Gallaudet founded The Church Mission to Deaf-Mutes, an aid society.  That year he also helped to found the Home for Aged and Infirm Deaf-Mutes, New York City.  The Gallaudet Home moved to Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1886.  He, aged 80 years, died in New York City on August 27, 1902.

I refer you, O reader, to Gallaudet’s memorial at anglicanhistory.org.

Henry Winter Syle made history.  He, born in Shanghai, China, on November 9, 1846, was a son of the Reverend Edward W. Syle, an Episcopal missionary.  Our saint, who moved to the United States at the age of four years, went deaf at the age of six years due to scarlet fever.  For the rest of his life Syle suffered from ill health.  In 1853 Syle matriculated at Bartlett’s School, New York City.  He moved to Hartford, Connecticut, with the school.  Syle matriculated at Trinity College, Hartford, in 1863, but could not complete his studies there because of ill health.  He wanted to attend the National Deaf-Mute College (now Gallaudet University), but President Edward Miner Gallaudet persuaded him to study at St. John’s College, Cambridge, instead.  Failing health forced our saint to leave that institution also.  Syle finally graduated from an institution of higher learning–Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut (B.A., 1869; M.A., 1872).  He became the first deaf man to graduate from a college not founded for deaf people.

Syle became a teacher and the librarian at the New York Institution for the Deaf.  He also started a night school for deaf people.  He did this while working on his M.A. from Yale College.  In New York City Syle was one of Gallaudet’s parishioners.   In 1872 Syle married Margaret Flannery, also deaf.  Syle left the deaf school to become an employee of the United States Mint in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile Syle, active in Syle’s missionary program to the deaf, undertook theological studies.  In 1876 he became the first deaf man ordained in The Episcopal Church.  Syle, a deacon until 1884, when he joined the ranks of priests, founded the first Episcopal church built for deaf people–All Souls’ Church, Philadelphia.

Syle died of pneumonia in Philadelphia on January 6, 1890.  He was 43 years old.

Gallaudet and Syle worked to include deaf people in the Church.  They pioneered much of what has become mainstream.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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O Loving God, whose will it is that everyone should come to you and be saved:

We bless your holy Name for your servants Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle,

whose labors with and for those who are deaf we commemorate today,

and we pray that you will continually move your Church to respond in love to the needs of all people;

through Jesus Christ, who opened the ears of the deaf,

and lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 35:3-6a

Psalm 25:7-14

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4

Mark 7:32-37

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 543

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