Parkersburg Church Brings Parishioners with Hearing Impairments into the ‘Loop’

By Colleen Rowan

PARKERSBURG—When the morning Mass began at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Parkersburg Nov. 23, Sister Lillian P. Sleight noticed something very different—she could clearly hear everything that Msgr. Joseph Peterson, V.F., was saying.

Sister Seight, who although wears a hearing aid still has trouble hearing at times, could not believe she could all of the sudden hear everything so well that morning. “I thought it was a miracle,” she said, laughing. “My hearing had been deteriorating for some time. … I heard everything very clearly. I heard every word that was spoken.”

Following the Mass, Sister Seight was delighted, she said, to learn that the church had just installed the Induction Loop System which provides enhanced hearing for those who wear hearing aids. The system includes a designated boundary within a building sheathed by a single wire that       triggers a coil inside hearing aids to enhance the reception of sound.

“The entire perimeter of the interior of the church has a single wire going around the walls and those listening within that loop … they hear almost crystal clear what is being said through the PA system,” Msgr. Peterson said.

“We realized we had a number of parishioners who have hearing aids and despite the fact that they have hearing aids, were still unable to hear the scriptures or the homily,” he said. “One of our parishioners mentioned that she had gone to Europe and, when she walked into public buildings equipped with the system, she was able to hear clearly.”

After researching the idea, Msgr. Peterson found a firm in Akron, Ohio, that installs the system. Installation, he said, took one day. He also said the system was affordable. A representative from the firm also came to the church to instruct individuals on how to activate their hearing aids. Hearing aids may also be retrofitted to sync with the system.

The Induction Loop System is the latest of St. Margaret Mary’s commitment to parishioners with hearing impairments. For the last few years, Gary Milliman has volunteered his time providing sign language every Sunday at the 11 a.m. Mass.