Catechist Ronalda Joseph Wood says she is humbled by the experience of preparing children with intellectual disabilities for First Communion.
Bethesda For Persons with Disabilities is finally breaking the barriers for special needs children in the Catholic Church in Trinidad and Tobago. They too are entitled to the sacraments and they too deserve to be counted and considered. They too can contribute to the development of our faith. They too matter!
Three months ago, when I was asked to “assist with the preparation of Bethesda’s Communicants” I said yes on the premise of my experience as a Catechist, and attended the training held by Bethesda for volunteers and catechists.
It was an eye-opener to say the least. I learned so much not only for the potential candidates at the Bethesda community but also how to help prepare children with mild disabilities attending our regular programme.
However, no experience could have prepared me for the journey I embarked on. It led me through highs so high, words are limited to describe the indescribable joy I felt.
I met six little angels, trying to find their niche and acquaint themselves with not-so-familiar faces. They were on a mission and together we would accomplish.
With anxiety, every Saturday we met for approximately one hour, teaching the fundamentals of our faith in preparation for their First Holy Communion. Their embracing of their faith and desire to receive Jesus, humbled me and forced me to revisit my faith.
The programme now completed with the necessary dispensations granted, it was the day! Our five little boys joined by one little girl, were ready. They had the privilege of tasting the bread and getting acquainted with the rites. They learnt to respond ‘Amen’, in their own way and it was time. We left the last ‘rehearsal’ with some trepidation as one Communicant didn’t want to taste. He assured us “I will take it tomorrow”.
October 20 will be forever etched in my memory. I was anxious and excited. Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju, Msgr Allan Ventour and Deacon Tristram Mathura all arrived to celebrate the occasion at St Paul’s RC Church, Couva. As we celebrated a sensory-friendly Mass, the little ones were anxious. There was no doubt that they truly understood what they were about to do.
Their little faces glowed with such innocence and joy as they received Jesus. They knew, they understood, in a way only little angels can.