Celiac disease is no joke, and even people who can comfortably digest gluten have started cutting the embattled protein composite out of their diets (Pro tip for boozers: substitute cider for beer, keep your small intestine in the clear). But even with all the gluten-free pizzas and cakes and cronuts floating around, the communion wafer continued to be an abdominal ticking time bomb—until now, that is!
Two Staten Island parishes have managed to cut some of the body out of the body of Christ, providing low-gluten hosts to parishioners who have trouble with the protein. "I find it’s a blessing," Mary Gay, a minister at St. Joseph-St. Thomas R.C. Parish in Pleasant Plains who suffers from celiac disease, told SI Advance. "My illness isn’t holding me back from receiving communion. I can participate in the whole mass." The wafers are also available at St. Clare’s R.C. Church in Great Kills, and the liturgy director says at least 10 or 12 people are signed up to receive the special hosts. The parish also takes great pains to keep the gluten-free alter bread separate from the regular wafers. "Some people are so very sensitive to the wheat gluten that if someone even touches a regular communion host and then touches the gluten-free hosts, they would have a reaction," she said.
And no, these wafers aren't crafted in an artisanal vegan bakery in Williamsburg; the parishes order them from a monastic community called the Benedectine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri. They sell low-gluten hosts online; they're made of wheat starch, contain 0.01 percent gluten, and have approval from the Office of the Secretariat for the Liturgy of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops.