An Vu, Andre Sulit, Kevin Dowd, Derrick Sual, Andrew Flores and Michael Laskowski stand with Deacon Richard Maxwell and St. Katharine Drexel pastor, Father John Vignone, on Sunday, June 3, after the special needs students received their first Eucharist at the Egg Harbor church.
Photo by Alan M. Dumof, ccdphotolibrary.smugmug.com
On Sunday, June 3, St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Egg Harbor Township held a first Eucharist Mass for six special needs youth.
The six youth, ranging in age from 7-13 and known as “Katie’s Kids,” after St. Katharine, spent two years preparing for the big day, being taught prayers and hymns and receiving religious instruction from teachers Patti Sharp and Keri Lucia.
The first Eucharist Mass for the special needs students came about after a parent expressed the desire to have their child receive the sacrament. Margaret Hawkins, Director of Religious Education, said that on Sunday, “the parents felt that the children were very welcomed, and part of the parish.”
“The children were very ecstatic,” she said. “Their family and friends all came out to support them.”
The once-a-week faith formation classes will be “ongoing and continuing,” with the hope that the students will make the next steps toward confirmation, Hawkins said.
Father John Vignone, pastor, celebrated the 1 p.m. Mass, and said that there will continue to be religious education classes for special needs students in the parish.
Calling the day “a beautiful experience,” Father Vignone praised the youth’s “hard work” and was moved by the “excitement in the children’s faces, and the joy in their parent’s faces.”
“They are a part of our parish community,” he said.
The youth — Kevin Dowd, Andrew Flores, Michael Laskowski, Derrick Sual, Andre Sulit and An Vu — all received rosary beads donated from the Knights of Columbus, who escorted them into the church at the beginning of the liturgy.