First Communion

Posted on: Mon, 05/17/1999 - 3:52am
Greg's picture
Joined: 01/16/1999 - 09:00

Our daughter recently had her first communion at our church. First Communions are a fairly big deal in the Catholic church and there was a lot of build-up leading up to this day from my daughters religon classes as well as from us. Needless to say she was very excited as the day approached. We attempted to take precautions such as phoning the convent where the hosts are baked(no nuts ever used there) and telling our daughter she couldn't drink the wine since the cup is shared by many, which poses a lot of problems. One of which is, of course, contamination by someone who ate peanut butter for breakfast. Thinking we had covered things,which we know you can never do but try anyways, we went confidently to the Mass. Lo and behold during the mass, just before the priest was to pass out the Host to the children he pulls a peanut out of his pocket,breaks it open and eats the nuts. He was trying to make some point which was lost on my wife and I since the second we heard "peanut" we zoned out. I proceeded to make a fool out of myself(would do again though) running up a down the aisles during the mass trying to get a hold a someone to help us out. In the end my daughter's religon teacher handled the situation by quitely stepping in and giving the Host to my daughter instead of the priest giving it. Of course this highlighted a glaring error in our preparations and that is, How clean ,peanut free, are the hands of the people who pass out communion every sunday? We are too frightened to allow our daughter to take communion as of now and she is quite upset since we told her for months that she would be able to do so once she had her first communion. We plan on discussing this with our parish but I was wondering if anyone out there has dealt with this issue already and might have a tip or two as to how to handle this?

Posted on: Mon, 05/17/1999 - 6:16am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Greg, our daughter also made her First Communion this month and although she is not the peanut allergic one, we get to go through this with our son in 3 years. I can just imagine the sheer terror you and your wife felt at the point when the priest pulled out the peanut. We had to forego the reception because we had our son with us and peanuts and baked goods were everywhere. We took her out to lunch instead so she wouldn't feel so badly about missing the reception. It's hard when it is supposed to be their "special" day and there are so many contributing factors involved.
Have you or your wife thought about becoming Euchuristic Ministers so you can give your daughter communion?
When I was pre-registering my 5 year old peanut anaphylactic son and daughter for CCD next year, a mother was in the office meeting with the priest telling him not to use any of the wheat hosts for her daughter. There are so many factors you cannot think of until you are smack dab in the middle of it.
I hope someone else has encountered this and can help.
[This message has been edited by Connie (edited May 17, 1999).]

Posted on: Mon, 05/17/1999 - 8:57pm
Coco's picture
Joined: 03/14/1999 - 09:00

Greg most churches are very helpful.
If you have a meeting with the priest and all assistant pastors and explain the situation, they are generally very understanding. You can arrange a special sign (a discreet nod each time that your daughter comes forward with you for communion) and the rule is "no nod, no communion"
Many of these folks have, in our area, spoken to the whole congregation and educated them about peanut allergy during a mass.
It is not an unreasonable request to ask them to post a sign in their own bathroom reminding them that they need to wash their hands thoroughly before mass ie.communion. I am assuming that there is always a priest or assistant administering communion, as well as volunteers...just choose their line up.
Also for smaller children at church (where many kind, sweet older folk offer candies and gum etc. to children that they don't really know), many people in our area post a large picture and large print (easy read for older eyes) attached with all necessary basic information. "Please do not give this child anything to eat" etc. Not only will the congregation help to protect your child, they will ask you many questions about this topic and your whole community will be better educated.

Posted on: Tue, 05/18/1999 - 2:37am
Greg's picture
Joined: 01/16/1999 - 09:00

Thanks for the ideas! I don't know why but it never occured to me that becoming an Euchuristic Minister could be a possible solution. I've flirted with the idea of becoming one before, but for other reasons. There are numerous volunteers and since they go up straight from the congregation there is no way to ensure they wash their hands before hand.
Probably the first step will be to start educating the congregation on peanut allergies. That method worked well when our daugther started school, so it should work well in this situation. They way things have been going lately I wouldn't be surpised to find out that one of the existing Euchuristic Ministers has a peanut allergy themselves.
Thanks again for the help!

Posted on: Fri, 06/04/1999 - 11:40am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Greg, have you had a chance to speak with all parties concerned regarding communion for your daughter, and if so, what was the outcome? I was just curious as several Sundays have passed since your daughter made her First Communion and I was wondering how you handled the situation and if your Parish was accomodating to you and your family.
Others, at some point, will be in the same boat(myself included)and any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Stay Safe!

Posted on: Sat, 06/05/1999 - 3:08am
Greg's picture
Joined: 01/16/1999 - 09:00

Hi sorry I didn't update sooner. We sat down and talked with the Parish Priests about a week and a half ago. They were very interested in what we had to say and were open to any suggestions we had. We ended up with mainly two solutions. The first was that my daughter will only accept communion from them and not any Eucheristic Ministers. Both priests told us they NEVER eat peanut butter in the AM before mass,In fact the Pastor who broke open and ate the peanut during first communion told us he is not particularly fond of peanuts and doesn't eat them anyway. Also as a habit, both wash their hands well just before starting mass. The second solution is for me to become a Eucheristic Minister. Needless to say they were thrilled to have another person lending a hand and it is the ideal way to for us to ensure that nobody with peanut residue on their hands gives her communion. Once again our daughter's allergy has caused us to become more involved in the community then we probably would have been, and we are better for it (and having fun too!). Hope some of this helps, and take care.

Posted on: Sat, 06/05/1999 - 11:34pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This is great news!! I'm so glad things worked out for you and your family...and your parish.
Stay Safe!

Posted on: Sun, 06/06/1999 - 6:34am
kellyh's picture
Joined: 05/27/1999 - 09:00

Hi Greg. I'm new to this board and was just saying to my husband that communion will be a problem! I'm glad everything worked out for you but I have one more question and maybe I'm really going overboard but what about when these priests shake everyone's hands (sign of peace)? It always bothered me because of spreading germs but now I have to worry about peanut exposure. Also, everyone always wants to shake my daughters hand- do you let your daughter? We are new to town and people don't know us so its hard not to offend people when you only have 2 seconds to explain. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks

Posted on: Mon, 06/07/1999 - 12:44am
Greg's picture
Joined: 01/16/1999 - 09:00

Hi Kelly,
Welcome to the board. Those are questions me and my wife did discuss between us and I guess the best way to describe what we decided is that we just can't let our worrying go that far. There has to be some point when you stop considering worst case scenarios, otherwise this allergy would drive us all crazy. We do let our daughter shake hands and through her 8 years has never had a reaction from doing so. Our priest does go out and shake a few hands,but not everyone's and the odds of any significant amount of peanut residue ending up on the tips of the priests forefinger and thumb (this is how everyone I've ever gone to hands out the Eucherist) are next to none. I should point out we always attend Sunday AM mass, where the odds of peanut contamination are less then at a Sat PM mass.
While I suppose someone could argue that if the risk is there it should be avoided,no matter how small the risk, for me and my wife this passess the point we set for ourselves and our daughter where worry about the allergy begins to affect life just a bit too much. This is not to say the concern is not there. I'm sure everyone on this board would agree that it is a daily struggle to keep from being overprotective. But it is our belief that at this point the benefits far outweigh any risks. I hope I didn't come off as "preaching" here, I just wanted to let you know how we ourselves approach this issue.
As far as letting people know about the allergies, we were in the same boat 5 years ago. We were new to town and new to the allergy ourselves. We just took things one at a time. If we didn't have enough time to explain things after offending someone,and that happened alot, we always went out of our way afterward to track them down and explain properly. It could be minutes after, sometimes it was days and weeks after but we almost always managed to explain. Everyone we have ever met, we've never hesitated to bring up our daughters allergy. Were we annoying sometimes?, I guess so, but it was heartening and, if the situation hadn't been so serious, almost comical to see 1/3 of the congregation turn and look at my wife and I when the Priest cracked open the peanut during her first communion. We had dozens of people,both friends and strangers come up to us afterwards and tell us they thought of us when he opened the peanut. I'm sure there are probably better and quicker ways to get the allergy message across, but looking back it worked out pretty well for ourselves.

Posted on: Mon, 06/07/1999 - 1:58am
kellyh's picture
Joined: 05/27/1999 - 09:00

Thanks, Greg. We do let our daughter shake hands, but since I started reading this site, my nerves are shot. I try to be very normal with her, but its hard. We don't know if smell or touch affects her- maybe that's why its so hard. Thanks again.

Posted on: Sun, 01/07/2001 - 1:54am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I wanted to bring this thread to the top so you could read it and hopefully it will help.
Stay Safe.


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