Fr. Guy Blair, SCJ
“I have learned from the deaf community that ‘less is more’ in the Mass”
-Fr. Guy Blair, SCJ
Originally from Connecticut, Fr. Guy is 72 was ordained to the priesthood in 1982. Many of his years of ministry have been with the deaf, a ministry sparked by an encounter that he had with a deaf woman when he was 12.
“One day, back in Connecticut, I was talking to an elderly deaf woman who asked me what the word ‘resurrection’ meant,” said Fr. Guy. “Here she was 75 years old, brought up a Catholic, and had no idea what the word meant. No one had ever explained it to her.” That memory stayed with him when Fr. Guy began his seminary studies. He heard about a sign language class being taught at a local high school and decided to give it a try. When his theology studies moved to Chicago, so did his study of ministry to the deaf community. He gave his first homily to the deaf when he was a deacon.
Fr. Guy has served in parish ministry in Canada and the United States. Often, that ministry is paired with service to the deaf community, which has impacted how he approaches liturgy.
“I have learned from the deaf community that ‘less is more’ in the Mass,” said Fr. Guy. “It isn’t only music, intrusive lighting, over-abundant floral and candle arrangements which detract from the central event of signing in the deaf liturgy. It is also our hearing culture’s love of repetition, long and ‘wordy’ prayers, references to novels, movies, and literature.”
Fr. Guy is also passionate ministering to the homeless. In Green Bay, he was instrumental in creating a shelter tied to St. John the Evangelist parish. In 2010, when he left the parish for a new assignment in South Dakota, the shelter’s gymnasium was named after him. It was one of several honors that Fr. Guy received for his advocacy for the homeless; in 2007 he was named by the Green Bay Press-Gazette as its “Person of the Year” for northeastern Wisconsin.
During his years of ministry in San Antonio, he not only ministered to the homeless, but used his skills as a painter to capture them in art. Fr. Guy emphasizes that he received permission from each of his subjects to both paint and share their images to others. There have been several showings of his art.
Fr. Guy is now a member of the Dehonian’s community in northern Mississippi. He assists with parish ministry, and at the two schools operated by Sacred Heart Southern Missions.