“Disability is a gift from God” – Fr Cyril Axelrod, the deaf and blind travelling priest

He has been travelling the world for 45 years to spread Christ’s message, despite being both blind and deaf. He is the only priest in the world who can neither see nor hear. He says disability is a gift from God.

When one meets this priest, one is immediately struck by his smile, which spreads happiness and light. He is 74 years old, and was brought up with a Jewish family in Johannesburg, South Africa. Fr Cyril Axelrod was born with a hearing problem, and says he was brought up with a lot of love and affection. In the year 2000 he lost his sight completely. With what can best be described as a solar smile, Fr Cyril says that as far as he is concerned, disability is a gift from God.

“The fact that I am blind and deaf is my mission, and the fact that God gave me this gift makes me retain a positive outlook on life”.

Fr Cyril was asked whether his disabilities ever made him angry. He replied that initially he was shocked, but he eventually calmed down, to transform his life and use the experience for the good of others.

Fr Cyril travels the world preaching in favour of the abilities and integration of the disabled in Asian countries like China, where the disabled are not appreciated. Fr Cyril uses his disability to show that even if not all of one’s senses are functioning, one can also contribute to society. Because of his work around the world, the Queen has made him an Officer of the British Empire.

Fr Cyril is in Malta to launch the book U Meta Jibda l-Vjagg, translated into Maltese. He maintains that one has to remain positive when faced with a problem, as the best decisions are taken calmly and not in anger.

“It is important that we remain positive and with a clear mind, and faith will unite us with God all the time”.

The best part of the interview was when Fr Cyril was asked why he is always smiling. “God is my smile, God is smiling at me”.

When one realises that Fr Cyril is totally blind and deaf, and depends only on his sense of touch, one appreciates life even more and is grateful for what one has.


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