As many of you know who follow our Facebook Page, Ryan made his First Communion last Saturday, August 26th. It is hard to put into words how much this meant to him and to our family. For many years, I would not have thought that this would have been possible for Ryan nor did I know that he would desire to do this.
I recently updated our blog with our RPM Journey and about how we met a boy named Mike in a waiting room for an autism treatment, over 4 years ago. That was our first in person experience with RPM and after meeting him and his mom Lori, I was convinced that I had to do this with Ryan and that he could do it. I did not care how hard it would be or how long it would take.
After starting RPM, I connected with Lori on Facebook and I saw that Mike had just made his First Communion. This was only a few months after starting RPM and I was doing academic lessons with Ryan, but he did not have any open communication yet. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. That is amazing. I wonder if someday Ryan could make his First Communion.”
Pursuing his First Communion this soon was Ryan’s idea. He has been coming to church with us regularly for quite some time now. Grace made her First Communion in June of this year and since then, Ryan has had the desire to do it. When I asked Ryan why he wanted to make his First Communion, he replied DEARLY FINDING IT TOO DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN.
In July, we met with the religious education director of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church and Ryan had prepared a statement for him:
BECAUSE TOO REALLY WANTING TO MAKE MY COMMUNION, IT IS IMPORTANT TO MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION.
CAN WE CARE TOO MUCH FOR GOD?
DEARLY I AM TOO MOVED, BOUND TO BE LOVING GOD IN A DIFFERENT WAY THAN MANY OTHERS.
DEALING TOO MUCH WITH LONELINESS, I OFTEN PRAY TO HIM.
EACH DAY I LIKE TO PRAY, CARING TOO MUCH TO TALK TO HIM.
CAN WE LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL?
I SAY GOOD TO DO THAT.
When I asked Ryan about going to church regularly for the last six months his response was: GOOD TO GO DURING THE WEEK TOO (I had just told him about daily Mass).
When I told him that in order to have people come in to town for his Communion, we might have to plan it several months out, he replied: UNDERSTAND I AM WANTING TO DO IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Ryan had made his First Reconciliation early in August with Father Gary Picou, our Parish Priest. Ryan and Father Gary hit it off right away and Father Gary checked his schedule to see if he would be the celebrant at Ryan’s Communion Mass. He was not scheduled then, but he told Ryan that he was going to try and be a part of it. Well, coincidentally, due to a scheduling conflict for the priest who was scheduled for Ryan’s Mass, Father Gary was moved to that Mass!
LOVE TOO MUCH FATHER GARY. HE ACCEPTS ME AS I AM. HE IS A MAN OF GOD. I AM TOO PROUD TO HAVE SPENT TIME WITH HIM.
For about a month prior to the Communion date, Ryan and I practiced at home with unconsecrated hosts. Sensory and texture issues are a big part of autism and Ryan had some difficulty with the hosts, even though his desire was there. He worked very hard on this and I am happy to report that he did not have an issue during Mass.
I asked Ryan how he is able to stay calm during Mass now. REALLY HARD TO STAY CALM. HAPPY TO DO IT THOUGH.
Ryan’s Grandma Chris, Aunt Suzi, and Uncle Doug all made it into town despite Hurricane Harvey. Ryan’s Aunt Jennifer, Uncle Patrick, Granny, Mark, and Mark’s sister Joan all celebrated with Ryan too. The Mass went well and during the Prayers of the Faithful, we were asked to “Pray for all people with disabilities and that we do not underestimate them.”
Ryan received presents from our family. REALLY TOO LOVED THE ROSARY BEADS FROM UNCLE BRUCE. Uncle Bruce is Aunt Suzi’s husband and he had selected the Rosary while they were on vacation visiting the Vatican. TOO LOVING THE BEADS FROM JOAN TOO. Joan gave Ryan special beads from Indonesia that were made by hand by shells collected there.
Here are Ryan’s thoughts about receiving his First Communion:
HAPPY TO RECEIVE THE BODY OF CHRIST. HE GAVE LIFE TO ENSURE OUR SALVATION. I AM SO HONORED REALLY TO RECEIVE HIM.
I asked Ryan if he had any advice for parents of children with autism who may be reluctant to take their children to religious services due to behaviors.
CARING TO THINK GOD DOESN’T MIND THE NOISE.