Communion for Celiac patients

I am fortunate and very grateful as a Celiac patient that my parish offers very low gluten hosts. I always feel weird though when I go to communion, as the priest always has a host in hand before I have a chance to say “gluten free please”. It feels irreverent that he has to put a consecrated host back and give me a different one, as if I’m at the market refusing a bad piece of fish.

Our priests know and recognize me and always look a bit embarrassed to have to make a correction, but they simply do not see me until I am standing on front of them.

I am wondering if anyone here has a suggestion for priest and parishioner alike to avoid the awkwardness? I once asked this during a retreat and was lectured to “just take” the host first offered, which was disappointing… celiac is no joke.

Gluten free communion was not available at my father’s funeral (my fault…I planned the mass and forgot to request it). I took communion anyway given the occasion, and became predictably and violently ill for several days. I shouldn’t have done it but what a heartbreaking choice!

If a Celiac patient regularly consumes gluten, we have a high risk of developing lymphoma. I have had seizures and, also allergic to wheat, anaphalaxis, so it’s just too dangerous.

In my parish the people who need to receive only the Previous Blood or low gluten Hosts line up first for Communion

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When I was a Sacristan, those with celiac disease (or otherwise in need of a low gluten host) would walk into the sacristy before Mass and give me a pyx with a low gluten host inside. If they didn’t have one but still needed it, I’d clean a pyx owned by the parish and put one in myself. Father would have it up on the altar during Mass and when that person would come up for communion, they’d receive it from Father who had their pyx. I would be very surprised to find out your parish has no such practice there. If not, maybe you can ask Father if you can bring a pyx with a low gluten host and do what I described here? Another suggestion might be, if you can’t tolerate a low gluten host, is to try to be first in line to receive from the chalice. Perhaps Father could prepare a separate chalice with just a little wine in it?


My parish has the celiac parishioners line up to the side of sanctuary and receive the Precious Blood from the chalice at the very beginning of communion. My pastor requests (especially at the morning mass where we don’t usually have the Precious Blood available for regular communion) that those people go to the sacristy before Mass and inform the priest or sacristan that they are there. That way the priest knows how many people to expect.

I think you have misunderstood. The celebrant always has a pyx with low gluten hosts…it’s just awkward as he doesn’t know who needs GF so he has host in hand as I approach, then has to put it back and switch to GF after I bring it to his attention.

From a celiac perspective it would be better if someone other than the celebrant had the GF pyx and served the GF parishioners first (because the celebrant has already handled wheat with both hands). Celiac patients are also sensitive to cross contamination. If someone puts cheese and crackers on the same plate, for example, I cannot eat the cheese as it may have touched the crackers.

If I order food, say at a Chipotle, and order a gluten free lunch, they have to change their gloves to prepare my food.

I would like to suggest a new protocol since most people aren’t aware how serious it is and understandably think just offering a GF option is adequate to keep people safe.

Have you talked to your priest and asked if it is a problem for him - is it really awkward for him? I can understand that he doesn’t have the host in hand when you present, he has been focusing on the previous person. You might be making more out of it than it really is. Talk with him and find out.

Tbh if your priest feels awkward it’s really his problem not yours. That said, receiving either first or last would be one way around this problem. As far as receiving when there are no-GF (strictly-speaking, low gluten) hosts available, you can receive from the chalice alone (although presumably not the one with a fragment of the host in it…).

I think this is only awkward in your head. Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry if it takes a few extra seconds. Don’t worry about what other people think or whether you are holding up the line or anything else.

Just tell father what you normally do, and wait patiently for him to retrieve the low gluten host.

If you want to ask him about it, maybe he would prefer you come first or last— but if he hasn’t given any specific instructions, don’t worry about it.


It isn’t irreverent. If it were irreverent, the priest wouldn’t do it and would instead make some other arrangement to get the consecrated gluten free host to you.


When you have a life threatening food allergy, it obviously makes many things more difficult. I would imagine having to inform the people around you that you can’t always eat the meals they prepare or eat at the same restaurants they frequent, gets very wearying. And I suppose some of these people might even give you grief.

I hope that, at least at your own parish, you make a point of receiving communion in a way that is safe for you.

Most parishes I know of are happy to provide a means for those with Celiac disease to safely receive communion. I hope you get a chance to speak to your pastor and mention that you wish you could make it easier for him to offer you the correct host. Maybe the two of you together can come up with a better plan for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance to receive.

You never know; you might be helping others in your parish who have been reluctant to receive communion.

This isnt your problem. This is a problem for the priest. If you are at your regular parish and you are there every week, they should know that you need to receive the low gluten host.

It happens to me when we have a visiting priest. I simply shake my head, slightly, and motion that he needs to switch to the low gluten host.

I’m not rejecting anything. Jesus knows that I have Celiac. And I am more than willing and wanting to receive Him. But we both know that I can’t have gluten.

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Don’t worry about it. Like anything, it will get easier with frequency.

Our parish had a separate person standing to the side with a sign around their neck Low Gluten Host and it was announced that it was available today, so any visitors could also have that option.

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