An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Syle, Henry Winter

(Nov. 9, 1846-Jan. 6, 1890). First hearing-impaired person ordained in the Episcopal Church. He was born in Shanghai, China, and lost his hearing as a result of scarlet fever. He studied at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, St. John's College, Cambridge, and in 1872 received his M.A. from Yale University. While teaching at the New York Institution for Deaf-Mutes, he was active in St. Ann's Church for the Deaf. He came under the influence of Thomas Gallaudet, a pioneer in ministry among the deaf in the Episcopal Church. In 1875 he moved to Philadelphia, where he prepared for ordained ministry. He was encouraged by Gallaudet and supported by Bishop William Bacon Stevens of Pennsylvania, against the opposition of many who believed that the impairment of one of the senses was an impediment to ordination. He was ordained deacon on Oct. 8, 1876, and priest on Oct. 14, 1883. In 1888 he built All Souls' Church for the Deaf, Philadelphia, the first Episcopal church constructed especially for hearing-impaired persons. The ministry of Syle and Thomas Gallaudet is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Aug. 27.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.