A journey of faith…Guest blogger Cathy Blatnik

Blatnik'sCathy Blatnik had contacted us following Inclusion Fusion wanting to share a wonderful story involving her ten year-old son (Dominic) with autism and ADHD. We thought Dominic’s story was very appropriate for Thanksgiving week. Here’s Cathy… 

At one time, having Dominic make his First Holy Communion was something that I could only dream about. On May the third, it became a reality.

Every few months, since Dominic was three, the hubby would ask me, “so, when are we going to sign Dominic up for religious education classes?” I kept putting it off, because at the back of my mind, I knew that a class geared towards children with special needs would be a better “fit’ for Dominic.

I was able to put the hubby off until about the middle of 2012. After talking with the director of religious education at our church, we registered Dominic for a class, so he could begin the process of making his First Holy Communion. As the day of the first class loomed closer, my anxiety was off the charts. I knew in my heart of hearts that Dominic really need to get started with classes, but I also knew that a class with more than five kids would be overwhelming for him.

About a week before that class was to start, I received an e-mail about a special needs religious education class starting up in a neighboring parish. The Saturday before the class at our church was supposed to start, I got an e-mail from the amazing woman that would be Dominic’s teacher. She told me the class would only have five kids and it would be two years of preparation and then they would make their First Holy Communion.

040His first class was at the very end of September where all the children and parents got to know each other. A lot of preparation went into getting all the children ready for their First Holy Communion. Just putting together a nice outfit for Dominic to wear was a challenge in itself 🙂

My husband and another dad each did a reading and the mom to two little girls in the class did the prayer petitions. I loved that each family could contribute special prayers. Dominic and his classmates brought the gifts up to the altar. He was responsible for handing a special cloth to Father L. Since we hadn’t practiced that with Dominic, he tossed it to Father L. and said, “here you go!” Father L. caught the cloth, said, “oh, thank you” and continued on without missing a beat! Dominic was the first of his classmates to receive Communion and we went up with him. We were so proud of him, he knew exactly what to do:

033After he was done, each child went up individually with their family members surrounding them. It was an incredibly moving experience. I’m sure Lauren and I weren’t the only ones holding back tears. Here is the hubby congratulating Dominic on a job well done!

Later, we had some delicious cupcakes that his teacher had made – they were really yummy!

So much credit goes to his teacher and her assistants. Mrs. W. is so loving, patient and kind. She truly has a “gift” for teaching!

I recently joined a group called, “Our Lady of Grace Special Families Ministry.” Many parents (including me) feel that it can be very overwhelming to take a child or adult with special challenges to a place of worship. A major thing on the agenda is having a once-a-month Mass for children and adults with special needs. I feel that it can be done – I have faith!

Cathy Blatnik grew up in Maryland, but moved to Michigan in December of 2001. She was raised a Catholic, then became Lutheran, then when she married her husband, she became a Catholic again. She currently attends St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Okemos, Michigan. She has a stepson (30), a daughter who is currently a college freshman and a 10-year old son (Dominic) with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. Cathy is a co-chairperson of the Our Lady of Grace Special Families Ministry in the Diocese of Lansing. She feels blessed that she has been a stay-at-home mom since 1996. She blogs at Bountiful Plate.

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2000x770 S DINGLE CHRCH4EVCHILD 2Check out Shannon Dingle’s blog series on adoption, disability and the church. In the series, Shannon looked at the four different kinds of special needs in adoptive and foster families and shared five ways churches can love their adoptive and foster families. Shannon’s series is a must-read for any church considering adoption or foster care initiatives. Read it here.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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