This Sunday we bring you a special feature programme about Cyril Axelrod, a Deaf-Blind priest who has lead a very inspirational life. Watch the ISL promo here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhvl31-byaU
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1942 to Orthodox Jewish parents, Cyril's deafness wasn't identified until he was 3 years old - his blindness would come much later. Due to limited facilities for Jewish Deaf children, his parents reluctantly sent him to St Vincent's, a Catholic School.
Despite attending a Catholic School, at home Cyril and his family were strict Orthodox Jews, attending Synagogue and celebrating feasts such as Passover and Yom Kippur. At age 15 he began training to become a Rabbi, only to have his dream shattered when he was told by the Chief Rabbi that his being "disabled" would prevent this from becoming reality.
In 1965 at age 23 he flew 800 miles to meet Bishop Green, a man known for his ministry to Deaf people in South Africa, who was surprised by Cyril's request to be ordained a Catholic priest considering he was still a Jew! He was baptised 3 months later and this year celebrates the 40th anniversary of his ordination as a Catholic Priest.
Cyril went on to become an inspirational figure, challenging the South African Government and defying Apartheid to set up the first multiracial school for Deaf children in South Africa. He would also devote 30 years of charity work in 5 different continents, learning to communicate in over 12 languages. He excelled academically, achieving a degree in philosophy/psychology while also becoming a qualified massage therapist. He also holds the distinction of being the only Deaf-Blind priest in the world. He achieved all of this because of his disabilities and not in spite of them.
Hands On had the pleasure of meeting this extraordinary man; we decided to devote a whole programme to one of life's interesting characters. This is quite simply unmissable!
Fr Cyril's book "And The Journey Begins" is available to order from all good Irish bookshops as well as from the publisher www.forestbookshop.com and www.Irishdeaf.com
Filming locations used: