September 26, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I write to tell you of a new resource available to strengthen your ministry to and with people living with sensory loss. Beginning this summer, I have appointed the Rev. Dr. Eugene Bourquin, a deacon of the Diocese, to serve as a Pastoral Missioner to the Deaf. Gene's twofold diaconal ministry will be to serve as a pastoral caregiver to people who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, blind, or experiencing other sensory loss (hereafter, Deaf), and as a missioner for strengthening the Diocese’s evangelism and ministry to the Deaf, including helping congregations to improve their outreach, welcome, and incorporation of people with sensory challenges.
Gene comes to this ministry with an exceptional depth of experience. For nearly three decades, he worked at a national rehabilitation center for deaf-blind youths and adults as a sign language interpreter, travel instructor, researcher, and director of community services. Fluent in American Sign Language, he holds numerous certifications, a master’s degree in deafness rehabilitation, and a doctorate in health administration. Gene is a native New Yorker who was ordained to the diaconate in May 2017 and recently returned to the United States after a year as a visiting deacon at All Saints Church, Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he also taught at a regional school for the blind.

My interest in equipping our congregations and other institutions for ministry to the Deaf reflects the Diocese's long and historical relationship with the Deaf community. One of our congregations is St. Ann's Church for the Deaf, established by educator and priest Thomas Gallaudet, today a saint in the Episcopal Church's liturgical calendar. The first service performed in sign language was held on October 3, 1852. Gallaudet served as vicar and then rector at St. Ann's for forty years, helping to establish St. Ann's as the mother church for Deaf Episcopalians in the United States. Building on this foundation, Gene's ministry will be to extend our outreach to persons with sensory loss throughout the diocese, paying attending to their needs and gifts, and the possibilities they offer to our common life and mission.

I encourage you to use Gene well as a resource for both pastoral care and evangelism. He is available to minister as an on-call chaplain and to make pastoral visits to members of your communities who have sensory loss, to assist you in developing accessible worship, and for consulting and educational workshops about incorporating the Deaf into your ministries. His Sunday liturgical ministry will be at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, but he is dedicating one Sunday a month for availability to congregations, for worship leadership, education programs, or pastoral response. On my behalf, Gene will also be serving as a liaison to institutions and associations for the Deaf beyond our Diocese, and if you have relationships with these, he will be glad to partner with you. Gene can be reached by email at or by telephone at 646-832-6003.

Please join me in praying for Gene as he begins this new diaconal ministry in our midst. With every good wish, I remain

Dietsche sig

The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche
Bishop of New York