The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

10 September 2009

Rupert's First Holy Communion

By: Mary Aileen Valera ASP Diliman Chapter

For months, he's been bugging me about it. "Ako rin," (“Me too.”) he whispers. His father or I, whoever sits beside him will whisper back, "Hintay ka muna, pag grade 2 ka na.." (“Wait ‘til you’re in Grade 2.”)

This is the scenario when we hear mass on Sundays during the Holy Communion in St. Benedict Parish, Fairview, Quezon City. But Grade 2 came and went. Still, Rupert is not able to participate in the communion services.

Last May, Jo Palomares, President of ASP Diliman Chapter, called me about a catechism for special children. This project is called Church Integration for Children with Autism.

Church Integration for Children with Autism

Filipinos are known to be religious. Valuing traditions handed down from the older generations, families usually congregate together on Saturday or Sunday mornings to go to church and hear Mass together. In order to prepare the children, they underwent catechism for two consecutive Saturdays. Together, they watched a video of an actual Catholic Mass, taught how to make the sign of the cross, and to pray the Our Father, and taught them on how to receive the Holy Communion.

I was glad that Rupert had this opportunity to join a special batch of communicants. He eagerly donned his white long-sleeved polo and waited patiently for an hour for the catechist to arrive. The catechist was a warm friendly lady whose mission is to facilitate giving first communion to those who yearned for it.

It was a joy to hear Rupert read out his basic prayers. He followed all instructions to the letter. Their group, all in white, looked like angels as they marched up the altar, palms in prayer, with candles grasped. Rupert felt like he was in 7th heaven.

His papa and siblings arrived just as Mass was about to begin. When communion time came, Rupert solemnly stood to line up with others. He replied "Amen" to the priest as the host was distributed to him. And with an impish grin, Rupert showed the white host to his papa as he walked back to his seat.

After the mass, we thanked the catechist. And my husband treated us to Chowking. Rupert’s joining the communion was a fitting birthday gift for me. Now, our family can go to mass together, and Rupert participates in the Holy Communion.


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