The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor will welcome the Rev. Tom Coughlin to present at its weekly chapel services on Wednesday.

Coughlin is Director of the Deaf Apostolate of the San Antonio Archdiocese. Coughlin will make a presentation using American Sign Language. This is the first time in the university’s history that a chapel presenter has been deaf.

The two services begin at 10 and 11 a.m. and both are open to the public.

Parker Kennedy, who is a deaf ASL professor at UMHB, said that the decision to bring in Coughlin to speak is a way to reach out to the deaf and hard of hearing community in Central Texas.

“There are more professional opportunities for deaf people nowadays because of technology and increasing awareness,” he said. “This is a good time for Father Tom Coughlin to visit the campus and continue to raise awareness of deaf culture and community.”

While students are required to receive a certain number of chapel credits each semester, Maggie Bates, who is an ASL teaching assistant at the university, expects that Coughlin will bring a unique point of view to chapel.

“UMHB students go to chapel every Wednesday to see different presentations. This will be very different than what the students are used to. Sign language is beautiful. I think they will be fascinated,” Bates said.

Jordan Yarbrough is a student in the university’s ASL program. She said she’s eager to witness the unique chapel service excited that the university is making an effort to recognize sign language and the deaf and hard of hearing community.

“It makes me so happy that UMHB actually cares about the ASL program and students are being exposed to the different cultures,” Yarbrough said. “ASL is such a small program here but it’s growing. I’m glad the organizers of chapel were able to bring this to us.”

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