Child with celiac disease not allowed to substitute rice wafer for Communion

Samantha Lever, an 8-year-old from Manorville, lives with celiac disease and can’t even ingest the low-gluten Communion host, which is made of wheat. Samantha’s mother Eileen says eating the Communion wafer could make Samantha very sick. (5/30/14)

MANORVILLE - A second-grader with a severe gluten allergy is in jeopardy of missing out on receiving her First Holy Communion.

Samantha Lever, an 8-year-old from Manorville, lives with celiac disease and can’t even ingest the low-gluten Communion host, which is made of wheat. Samantha’s mother Eileen says eating the Communion wafer could make Samantha very sick, but they were told they could not substitute the host for a rice wafer. Samantha's parents declined the option of allowing her to drink the sacramental wine instead of receiving the host because they felt she's too young for that. 

The First Communion is scheduled to be held at St. John the Evangelizer Roman Catholic Church in Center Moriches. The diocese says the church has been pastoral in making alternatives available to Samantha’s parents, but at some point, the child “must take the body and blood of Jesus, otherwise they will have denied Christ.”

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“The other day we had the rehearsal for the Communion, and my daughter was crying so bad that all the other kids got the host and she did not,” says Eileen Lever. “It broke my heart.”

Samantha will be given an "act of spiritual communion prayer card” instead of a wafer or wine. 

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