A mother is infuriated after she said a priest at a Catholic church in Indiana denied her daughter the right to participate in a First Holy Communion ceremony for wanting to wear a pantsuit versus a dress.
Chris Mansell took to social media to express her outrage at the incident, where she is vehemently standing up for her daughter, Cady, and the story is going viral. The woman said that a priest at St. John the Evangelist church in Indiana reportedly told her that she was “raising her daughter wrong.”
A Facebook post from September 28 on Mansell’s page states that the girl missed her First Communion and that “Cady was not allowed to wear her suit…the priest told us we are raising our daughter wrong and that we should make her dress feminine because she doesn’t have the brain development and maturity to make decisions about how to dress.” The mother stated that she left the church and is asking people to share her story.
“My daughter just wants to wear pants while worshipping the Lord and receiving the Eucharist with her classmates,” Mansell wrote.
To add insult to injury, Mansell told Heavy that other girls had also violated the dress code, yet they were still allowed to participate. “The choice to fight for the suit came when I asked the Director of Religious Education, the person who was sent by the priest to speak with me, if another girl violated the dress code by having a sleeveless dress (I knew most of Cady’s classmates DID plan on wearing sleeveless dresses), would that female student be forbidden to participate in First Communion? The answer was NO,” Mansell said. “And on the day of First Communion there were multiple children in violation of the dress code but they weren’t denied participation in the ceremony.”
Mansell told Heavy that she is “flabbergasted” by the fact that the story has reached so many people across the globe. She continued:
Before the Pantsuit Nation posted our story I couldn’t get anyone to pay attention to the issues we were having. I emailed local media outlets but no one ever answered. So to go from having no one interested to everyone interested is unimaginable.
As for Cady, I don’t think she grasps the enormity of it all. We recently received encouraging messages from people in Australia, Ireland, Italy, and even a Catholic deacon from Columbia. We’ve received dozens of photos from women who either wore pants to their own communions or whose daughters wore pants to their communions, covering a time span from the 1970’s until 2017. Someone sent us a story printed in a language we can’t even identify. These are the messages Cady has enjoyed the most. But I don’t think she understand that there are far more people seeing her story than just the ones messages us.
Mansell stated on Facebook that “this kind of garbage is why people leave Catholicism and never look back.”
“Excluding children from their peers over a pair of pants is not how you make lifelong Catholics,”the mother posted. “Making children feel bad about being different is how you create bullies, addicts, suicide victims. I refuse to be a part of it.”
Mansell is especially taken aback by the church since “Cady proudly wears her suits for school pictures, daddy-daughter dances and to mass almost every Sunday,” NBC News reported.
Mansell described her daughter via Facebook:
…Most of you know my daughter, Cady. She’s a sweet and smart and caring girl. She was born with a servant’s heart. She volunteers to help friends with homework. She helps me organize and facilitate multiple school and church functions including Field Day and Vacation Bible School. She has donated her hair to Locks of Love twice; her first donation of hair was one of the longest donations ever received in NWI. Last March she shaved her head for St. Baldrick’s and raised almost $6,000.
Cady also has a love for suits. It started when she was 4 yrs old when she asked for a bow tie. Now she’s 9 and her suit and tie collection has grown…
On September 29 Mansell clarified her reason for the family leaving the church in another Facebook post. “I want to make it very clear why my family has chosen to leave St. John the Evangelist, as I am sure many rumors are flying,” she wrote. “The decision to cut ties with this organization is not something we take lightly. We are NOT leaving because Cady wanted to wear a suit for her First Communion. We ARE leaving because Father Maletta decided to tell my husband that we are raising our daughter wrong for letting her choose how to dress. We ARE leaving because he chose to say my daughter doesn’t have the mental capacity to make her own decisions. We ARE leaving because this man is a bully in the purest form. And I refuse to deny it any longer.”
The mother described her daughter as crying when she had to stand in front of the priest during mass, and claimed employees have also cried because of the way Maletta has treated them.
Mansell told Heavy that thankfully Cady is a “resilient child” who is adjusting well to her new school. “She has taken everything very well and has adjusted to her new school. She has her sister to lean on, they’re only 15 months apart so they’re very close, and that made starting a new school much easier,” she stated.
The church has not yet responded to the accusations from Mansell.
Days before Cady was expecting to receive her first Holy Communion, Mansell posted a photo stating that the girl was “practicing how to receive the Eucharist requires Flying Saucers candy and a lot of real wine.”