The Voice of Ability Series

Hanaka 2 - Seeing ability in the blind

Parishioner from All Saints in Wichita writes about serving the church – without sight

By Vicki Hanaka
My formal education began at a nursery school for blind children and their sighted brothers and sisters. That meant that when he was old enough, my brother Mike could attend with me. Much later, Betsy followed.
I made friends there, some life-long. We learned through play, some field trips, and song. I’ve enjoyed singing for as long as I can remember. Once, after hearing a singer on TV, I told my grandmother that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Some form of that dream stayed with me until college.
From kindergarten through high school, I attended the Kansas School for the Blind in Kansas City, Kansas. Being away from home was difficult for me, but I made friends and loved school. In my opinion, the school excelled in music and in providing ample opportunities for reading and writing braille, which I began to learn in first grade.
For college, I came back to Wichita, attending what is now Newman University.
There I fell in love with theology and philosophy. Since the school had no theology major at that time, and since for a brief time there was a philosophy major, I earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. My faith and intellect converged in the study of theology, and I wanted to put my mind at the service of Christ and his church.
Hoping to teach at the college level, I earned a master’s degree in theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology, then in Dubuque, now in St. Louis. But I had no doctorate, so the dream of teaching college theology never materialized.
While there, I eventually met John, who is now my husband. We have a son, Steve, and a daughter, Christi, now both happily married.
When we were engaged, John and I learned the Billings method of natural family planning. We soon adapted it to the Creighton Model, which I believe is now called Fertility Care Services. Throughout the rest of our procreative life, NFP remained very important for us. It put Humanae Vitae into practice. I knew that if I got married, I wanted a family, and NFP allowed us to have the family that fit our life circumstances.
Though I never taught college theology, I’ve continued to be involved in the church. I have enjoyed being a lector on various occasions, but All Saints has provided me with the opportunity to be a cantor. This was a natural for me, since I’ve always enjoyed singing and have sung in school and church choirs from grade school through graduate school and beyond.
Editor’s note: This is the second in a brief series by Vicki.

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