By KATIE BORKOWSKI
CARROLL – When the remodel of Pope St. John Paul II Parish – St. Lawrence Church took place in 2012, a special hearing system, the hearing loop, was installed.
The idea for the hearing loop was presented to Father Timothy Schott, pastor at the time, by Nick Topf, a 33-year St. Lawrence parishioner who just turned 90. Topf and his wife have worn hearing aids for a combined total of 50 years.
“I read a blog about a minister who put it (the loop) in his church,” said Nick Topf. “He (the minister) was so surprised, because even he liked it. I got interested, so I read up on it and did some research.”
He found out the St. Lawrence remodel was to be done and decided, “We should just be getting one, so I got a bunch of literature and sent it to the building committee.”
Topf added, “Someone told me to bug Father Schott. I got him to sit down at a computer and educated him a little bit. I found an outfit out of Wisconsin to install it, which cost us about $5,000 and we got a $1,000 donation.”
According to Father Kevin Richter, pastor of Pope St. John Paul II Parish, the hearing loop was installed at St. Lawrence Church “in order to bring the latest technology in hearing assistance to our church.”
The hearing loop was put in under the tile floor that replaced carpeting during the remodel. When inside the loop, while in a pew, someone with a hearing aid can hear much better.
The hearing loop connects the microphone in the church directly to a person’s hearing aid. The t-coil – or telephone switch on the hearing aid – needs to be turned on to connect to the system.
Most aids have this setting on them, but for those that don’t, a headset is available in the church to be used. If someone doesn’t have a t-coil switch on their hearing aid, they can ask their audiologist about it.
Before the hearing loop was installed, there was a lot of extra noise and it was difficult to hear the reading and the homily, Topf admitted.
With the hearing loop, much of the extra noises are eliminated, but there are sounds and words the priest says that Topf can hear that no one else can hear; for example, the pouring of the wine, the prayer the priest says when he is washing his hands and the words prayed after the Gospel is proclaimed.
“It is like having a one-on-one conversation,” Topf said. “The good Lord says preach the good news. One of the basic principles of the Catholic Church is preaching. They insist on the priest giving a sermon. If you can’t clearly understand that, you are not really participating in the Mass.”
A hearing loop was also installed at Le Mars All Saints – St. Joseph Church when Father Richter was pastor there.
“The reaction to the system was very positive in Le Mars,” said the priest. “People appreciated the fact that they didn’t have to do anything to utilize it other than to make sure that the t-coil on their hearing aids were turned on.”
Father Richter added the parishioners in Le Mars liked the fact that the system “worked directly with their hearing aids and didn’t require any additional devices. One person didn’t even realize that it was working through her hearing aids. She was just very surprised when she could hear everything clearly.”
For more information about the hearing loop or to view a YouTube video, visit the Pope St. John Paul II website at www.saintlawrencecarroll.org/hearingloop.html.