JACKSON-God made young Anthony LaCugna, of Manalapan, a child who suffers from autism, but parents Nicole and Jimmy say a priest at St. Aloysius Church in Jackson can’t help him take his first holy communion.
“Today Nicole and I were informed that our son Anthony would not be able to make his communion this year,” Jimmy posted on Facebook. “As most of you know, Anthony is an autistic non-verbal child who is in his sacrament year.”
LaCugna blamed Father John Bambrick at Saint Aloysius Church in Jackson and the Archdiocese of Trenton who came to this position since Anthony is unable to determine right from wrong due to his disability.
“They feel he is not up to the ‘benchmark required to make his communion’,” he said. “This is very hard and upsetting to comprehend when we all are created by God and now our son is being shunned from the Catholic faith due to his inability to communicate.”
Residents of Jackson Township and parishioners of the church came to the family’s defense and petitioned Bambrick to reverse his decision.
They were sent a canned response from the church.
“Thank you for expressing your concern and advocating on behalf of this family,” the church responded. “We appreciate your taking the time to share with us you[sic] feelings.”
St. Aloysius said it cannot discuss the matter regarding the minor, but said the parish has dozens of children with special needs and autism.
“We strive to serve these populations to the best of our abilities and to adapt our religious education and sacramental preparations for them within the guidelines of the church,” the statement continued. “Since Monday we have been researching how we could best assist the most profoundly disabled in a better way.”
The church said the family has been informed of this new guidance and will allow further preparations for his Holy Communion.”
In a story today in the Asbury Park Press, it was reported that Bambrick has not reversed his decision, but the matter could be revisited.
“This is something that I hope goes viral and these parties involved get their names called out for this disgraceful and disheartening act against a child who has a disability and wouldn’t even be able to create a sin because he is one of the sweetest and innocent little boy someone would ever meet,” dad Jimmy said. “Please help spread the word for Anthony’s peers in his spectrum so no other child or family has to deal with or feel what we have been felt with over the past couple of days since we have been made aware of this. Father Bambrick of Saint Aloysius Church and the Archdiocese of Trenton should be ashamed of themselves for this!!!”