Axelrod, Cyril

South African
Catholic priest
Clergy (Catholic)
School founder
Born deaf; Usher's Syndrome was diagnosed in his 30s, leading to his progressive complete blindness. Also born Orthodox Jewish (original name Sheftil ben Avram Abba). Attended St. Vincent's School for the Deaf 1945-1961. Converted to Roman Catholicism at age 20. Studied accountancy part-time 1962-1965, becoming a certified bookkeeper, but decided to enter the priesthood instead. Studied at Gallaudet College 1965-1966 and Catholic University in the U.S. also 1965-1966 before returning to South Africa to complete his religious studies 1967-1970. Self-claimed to be the first deaf-blind man ordained a Catholic priest, in 1970; active in efforts to evangelize the deaf of South Africa, 1971-1988. Founded a school and other organizations for Black deaf people in Soweto, South Africa. Assigned to missionary work among the deaf in Macao (China) 1988-2000; founded a social service center and more associations of the deaf in Macao; also established the Philippine Federation of the Deaf in 1998. Beginning 2001, was pastoral development coordinator for Deafblind UK in Peterborough, England. Recipient of several awards, including an honorary doctorate from Gallaudet University in 2001.
Contact, March/April 1982, p.5.
24 February 1942-