Shift: Diocese will allow boy with Down Syndrome to receive communion

Some may remember the story from earlier this year, about the boy in England who was not being allowed to receive his First Communion.

That’s about to change:

A seven-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome who was refused an opportunity to receive his first Holy Communion is to take the sacrament.

The Diocese of Leeds previously said Denum Ellarby, of Gomersal, West Yorks, was unprepared for the experience.

The refusal was revoked after Denum took part in weekly one-to-one Communion classes with a volunteer from the diocese.

His mother Clare Ellarby said the family was “happy” with the decision.

The Diocese of Leeds declined to comment on the altered position.

Denum will take Communion later at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Batley, with classmates from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.

Mrs Ellarby had fought for Denum to be allowed to participate.

She said: “We’re very happy with the outcome.

“Denum is looking forward to taking Communion and this means he can take this religious step with his school friends.”


  1. Being prepared to receive any sacrament is a hard one to call. No matter what preparation program is in place, no matter what standard there is established to insure there is an understanding of the faith and a desire to preserve the Holiness of what Christ instituted, something like this happens to help us give it to God to sort out.

  2. Good for Denum and good for his family. Here’s a family that takes their faith seriously enough that they were willing to engage the boy in weekly lessons/conversations about the meaning of the Eucharist, and who also stood up and advocated for his full participation in the Eucharstic celebration. Christ is with the humble, and I can’t imagine Jesus not wanting this boy to receive Holy Communion.

  3. Interesting dilemma. Nice volunteer.

  4. ron chandonia says:

    The BBC santimoniously declares that the wicked Catholic diocese now has an “altered position.” But the facts are otherwise. The diocese told the parents that the boy was unprepared to receive communion with his class. Then they provided him with weekly instruction to prepare him for the sacrament. When he completed the prep sessions, he was welcomed to receive. Where’s the “altered position” in all of that, except in the mind of some pagan reporter?

  5. Cheeky Lawyer says:

    How can one ever “understand” the Eucharist? The excessive rationalism of the Latin Rite really bothers me at times. If this boy’s parents were Eastern Catholics, he would have received communion when he was baptized.

  6. the phrase “down syndrome boy” is antiquated and quasi-offensive. just fyi

  7. PaulJames says:

    For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me…
    …whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

  8. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    How would you suggest writing something similar in a short headline that I tried to make fit on one line?

    And: what is a better way to describe him?

    Serious question.


  9. The preferred nomenclature is “boy/child with down syndrome” It only adds one word, and puts the emphasis on him as a person, instead of defining him by 1/47th of his genetic material! :) If economy of language is a concern, you could write “Diocese allows boy with down syndrome to receive Eucharist,” and preserve the same number of words. “Diocese now invites boy with down syndrome to Eucharist.”

    Thanks for asking.

  10. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Is “Down Syndrome” or “Down’s Syndrome” preferred? I’ve seen it both ways.


  11. Down Syndrome seems to be more common these day, although I don’t think “Down’s” or “Downs” syndrome are looked on negatively.

  12. thanks for your openness to this. it seems minor, but it makes a difference in terms of how we think about human dignity.

  13. MarieLouise says:

    Steve, it was clearly reported here in the UK that part of the reason he was denied the chance to make his Communion was because the family was not regularly attending Mass and because the little boy had not been brought to all the preparation sessions. So I’m glad that the little boy will be admitted to the Sacraments, I’m not sure that your assessment is correct.

  14. I am very glad that they were able to resolve this issue in a reasonable way. It is wonderful that someone was willing to volunteer their time in order to sufficiently prepare the child for the sacrament.

    Whatever the proper description of Denum’s medical condition is…he is one extraordinarily cute little boy!

  15. pagansister says:

    This is good for everyone! I’m happy he can participate now.

  16. “Let the children come to me.”

  17. Down didn’t have , so “Down’s Syndrome” is nonsensical.

  18. Midwestlady says:

    It’s a good thing that this boy’s family decided to bring him for the make up classes the diocese provided. Here’s hoping they take the opportunity to attend mass on a regular basis. You can’t participate if you don’t show up.

  19. naturgesetz says:

    I think it’s customary to use the possessive to identify the discoverer of things, whether it’s Parkinson’s Law, or Parkinson’s Disease (different Parkinson, probably), or Alzheimer’s Disease. Lou Gehrig’s Disease is the exception, rather than the rule, because he was so well known, and the disease became known because he had it.

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