Speech problems can actually help clergy by making them more compassionate and understanding of other people's problems, writes Phong Vinh Nguyen.
Three years ago stuttering was catapulted into the worldwide spotlight with the success of the movie The King’s Speech, which centered on King George VI’s struggle with the speech disorder and his unique relationship with his Aussie therapist, Lionel Logue.
Another famous person who stuttered was Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson), who in writings would express himself with a fluency that he lacked in his real life. Carroll’s father was as Anglican priest and he was expected to follow suit. He became a deacon in the Church of England but never took the initiative to study for the priesthood. Most biographies cite Carroll’s stuttering as the reason.
But countless priests, nuns and Brothers who struggle with stuttering have pursued vocations in the Catholic Church and have not let their speech problems hold them back.
In 2011, when Archbishop Joseph Harris was consecrated as the Coadjutor-Archbishop of Port of Spain in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, he said that he almost never became a priest because of his stammering. “There was some doubt I would be ordained because of my stammer,” he said. “Fifty years ago I could not put two words together without stammering.”
Fr Luis Farinello, an Argentine priest who is famous throughout Latin America for helping the poor, did not let stuttering stand in the way of his vocation. A few years ago, the Argentine Stuttering Association presented him with the Jorge Luis Borges Award, named after the Nobel prize-winning author (and stutterer).
A couple of years ago, people in Bridgeport, Connecticut, must have been surprised to see an article in the Connecticut Post about Fr Michael Dunn, a parish priest who struggles with stuttering. Fr Dunn was counseling troubled teenagers and going for a graduate degree in counselling when he decided to enter the priesthood."
FULL STORY Even Moses stuttered