Sunday, July 24, 2011

Changing Times for Catholic Celiacs

In our local newspaper, in the food section of the paper, there was an article that mentioned that Catholic churches offer low-gluten wafers.  The article was short, only about three paragraphs.

I was shocked, surprised, and thrilled.

I've known that Catholic churches in the area offer low-gluten wafers, but I was surprised to see it in print and thrilled to know that that there are others receiving in our neighboring churches.  How far the church has come since Nate received his First Communion.  Catholic Celiacs were just being welcomed to commune following Cardinal Ratzinger's, (now Pope Benedict,) approval of the use of the low-gluten wafer.  Just a few months after Cardinal Ratzinger's invitation, Nate received his first Eucharist.  No more worry of controversy nor the fear of excluding Nate from receiving and possibly ostracizing him from his faith when he reached adulthood.

Since that time, we have met with some priests that get it, and others that have mistaken the crispy little low-gluten wafer as a potato chip.  One memorable experience was at St. Charles Boromeo church, the patron saint of those with stomach issues, and our son's confirmation saint.  The priest there, was so use to the low-gluten wafer, he even had his own stash and did not need our contribution.

Now, here in our metro area, the local Jesuit high school has 15 communicants that request the low-gluten wafers.  The remaining churches in the area number around a dozen, many which I recognize but never have visited.

At the very least, as those priests move on to new parishes, the acceptance of the low-gluten wafer will also spread through the community.  Spreading beyond our metropolitan area and into the farming communities and small country towns throughout our state.

I wonder, how the rest of the United States has changed.  This is our corner of the world, and in other countries they had long before the US, started using low-gluten wafers.  What about the rest of the U.S.?

Heaven-sent for the gluten-intolerant 

You know that gluten-free has gone mainstream when priests offer low-gluten Communion hosts at Mass. 

Eleven Portland-area parishes and three individuals order the hosts from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Mo. 

They're more costly than regular altar breads containing wheat and they require separate handling. And gluten-free hosts have been controversial because Eucharistic bread must be made of wheat and water to be considered "valid matter." 

But the Benedictine altar breads, made with water and wheat starch with less than 0.01 percent gluten, satisfy both Catholic Church guidelines and the needs of gluten-intolerant churchgoers. At Jesuit High School in Portland, up to 15 communicants have been receiving these hosts for the past two years, says Don Clarke, director of campus ministry. 

And those suffering from celiac disease are overjoyed. One Jesuit student's mom "started crying when she heard she could receive Communion again," says Clarke. 

Learn more about the Benedictines' low-gluten hosts. 

--Joan Cirillo OregonLive