Autism Light: St. Peters Roman Catholic Church

Today’s Autism Light is St. Peters Roman Catholic Church.

St. Peters Roman Catholic Church is located at 350 Fair Street in Warwick, Rhode Island.  The church was established in 1933 and the present pastor of the church is Rev. Roger C. Cagne. St. Peters Roman Catholic Church is an Autism Light because they have a special autism program that helps Catholic individuals with autism in Rhode Island to experience the Sacraments.

History: In the Fall of 2008, St. Peters began the program of offering Autism & the Sacraments as part of their Faith Formation offerings. The program is part of several like it in the Catholic Church, but it is the first of its kind in the state of Rhode Island. In March of 2009 an article was written by the Associated Press on this unique autism program by the church. More information on this successful and ongoing program can be found on their website at

Program:  As part of the program, children meet every two weeks to learn about their faith. To develop the program volunteers were used that come from the Catholic faith but who also have professional experience in working with autistic students outside of the church.Anyone interested in having their child enroll should call Margaret Andreozzi, who is the elementary faith formation coordinator.  Her number is 401/461-5691. There is a waiting list to get into the program.

Mass: 3 Masses (worship services) are celebrated with the families in the Autism & the Sacraments program.  These Masses have been led by the church’s pastor, Rev. Roger Cagne. Some of the changes he makes to these special Masses is the hour-long liturgy is shortened to 15 minutes, by skipping music, making prayers optional, and having only a brief message. Rev. Roger Cagne said about this program, “The whole point is Jesus is totally inclusive. He directs his followers to do the same (Source).”

Social Media:  You can follow St. Peters Church on Facebook at Special thanks to St. Peters Roman Catholic Church in Warwick, Rhode Island for helping those with autism to be able to participate in the Catholic religious faith.

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Autism Light is an upbeat but real blog that takes readers on a journey that recognizes diverse heroes in and for the autism community.
Alan Stokes

Alan Stokes

Autism Light is an upbeat but real blog that takes readers on a journey that recognizes diverse heroes in and for the autism community.

4 thoughts on “Autism Light: St. Peters Roman Catholic Church

  • Cool post very informative I just found your site and read through a few posts although this is my first comment, i’ll be including it in my favorites and visit again for sure .

  • @rusty0505@xanga – Children with autism can not participate in regular serices, as they are incapable of staying still or quiet for that long. Also, the music may be too loud and the presence of the crowd itself is always a factor and can trigger a meltdown. Autistic children make a lot of noise, and there have been many news stories in the last few years about churches asking their families to either leave their children at home with a sitter or stop coming.

    While an all-inclusive atmosphere is the ideal, with a child on the spectrum (especially at the lower functioning end), it isn’t always possible. If I were still christian, I would love the separate masses. It might be the only time a week when the child feels comfortable being outside the home. Autism is very isolating.

    Leaving out the prayers helps as well. Children on the spectrum are not capable of understanding religious concepts, which is why I don’t raise my own children in any religion, not even my own. Trying to make a child on the lower functioning end grasp why prayer is important or even what it is would be next to impossible. Autistics take everything literally, and will frequently not do something that doesn’t ‘make sense’ to them.

    I have two children on the spectrum. It is a daily struggle. I admire what this church is doing and I hope a lot of christians will support it as well.

  • @rusty0505@xanga – Autism Light seeks to recognize diverse heroes to the autism community and to share their story without endorsing all their actions or beliefs. We leave that up to the reader to decide how to use the story. 

  • This sounds great, but the priest shouldn’t be intentionally leaving any of the prayers out of the Mass. Afterall, the Holy Mass is the greatest prayer one could ever pray. I definitely agree that Jesus is for all people, especially as He tells us to “let the children come”. Aside from that, I’m not sure if having seperate Masses is such a good idea. While the priest might be trying to include those children with autism, praying seperate Masses with them (though i’m sure others are welcome) is exclusionary at the conceptual level, isn’t it? Then again, I can think of plenty of parishes that have bilingual Masses, or even my own parish seems to have Masses that are more geared towards college students.

    Bottom line, thank you so much for featuring the charity that this parish is doing. I just hope that the priest isn’t neglecting the necessary prayers. I don’t say this to be a stickler to details. If the priest trades specific prayer that may be long for the sake of holding the children’s attention, he very well might be missing some of the graces that are afforded during the Mass, graces that very well could lead to deeper conversion or even a miraculous healing, for with God all things are possible.


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