Feast Day of Saint Lucy: Blind Priest Ministers Through Xavier Society

Tags: Currents, Catholic Church, Catholic Community, Catholic New Yorkers, Faith, Inspiration, Saint Lucy, Saints, Xavier Society

By Tim Harfmann

Father Jamie Dennis is blind, and celebrates Mass through his fingertips. 

He describes his eyesight as looking through a straw.

“By the time I was in eighth grade, I had to use a cane. By the time I was about to finish high school, I could not read large print anymore,” he explained. 

While studying for the priesthood, his eyesight worried him.

“That was one of my fears,” he said. “How am I going to have the liturgical texts? How am I going to have biblical sources? All of those basic Catholic things that everybody else can just pick up off the bookshelf.”

Fr. Jamie is able to celebrate Mass thanks to the Xavier Society For The Blind. The Catholic organization distributes braille materials to Catholics throughout the United States and in 20 other countries, so they can grow closer to Christ. 

“Having something in braille, that opens up a whole world of independence that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” said Fr. Jamie. “All I have to do is have my paper clips ready to put in the book, and I’m set.”

It’s not a disability, but an ability to serve the people of God.

Fr. Jamie traveled from Kentucky to New York for a special Mass at Saint Francis Xavier Church in Chelsea Dec. 13, the Feast Day of Saint Lucy, patroness of the blind. 

Some Catholics in the pews were visually impaired. Readings, responses and prayers were all in braille.

“They have enough difficulties in terms of obstacles and barriers to live life everyday, let alone to get to church and practice their faith,” explained Malachy Fallon, executive director of the Xavier Society. “So anything we can do is just wonderful.”