7-year-old boy with autism kicked out of church during sister's baptism in New Jersey

HILLSIDE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A 7-year-old boy was forced to leave a church in New Jersey on Saturday because he was playing with a ball during his sister's baptism.

The boy has autism and when his mom tried to explain that to the priest at Christ the King Church, she said he would not listen.

"When I confirmed the date of the event, I was told it would, in fact, be a private celebration for just our family, no one else," his mother, Julia Vicidomini, wrote on Facebook. "With this information, I felt more comfortable taking Nicky as he doesn't do well with a full mass and large group settings."



Vicidomini has attended the church and its school since her childhood. The family acknowledged they didn't tell the priest ahead of time that their son has special needs, but after the service when they tried to explain, the priest refused to apologize, and that stung.

ALSO READ | These NY school districts must submit reopening plans by Friday

"My husband told him that he thought a priest, of all people, would be more sympathetic to a child with special needs, that he was completely unprofessional and ruined our celebration," Vicidomini said.

She said that her husband told the priest that their family deserved an apology.

"He then came outside right away, I said 'this is my son Nicoholas, the one you kicked out a church, he's nonverbal, he's 7 years old,' and right away he goes, 'I didn't kick him out,' and started getting loud with me and my wife the moment that I was coming out to apologize, not make excuses," father Marc Vicidomini said.

Now Julia says her family does not intend to go back to the church.

"I intend to withdraw my friendship and find a church that is more accommodating to children with special needs," she said.

The Archdiocese of Newark released the following statement:

"On behalf of the parish and the Archdiocese of Newark, we offer our heartfelt apologies for the abrupt behavior demonstrated by one of our pastors on Saturday during a private family ceremony. The pastor was unaware that the sibling playing in a nearby candle room during the ceremony has autism. The pastor did not understand the child's behavior, he felt unprepared to respond appropriately, and his reaction to the situation was not pastoral. He acknowledges and is regretful for the mistake. Our Archdiocesan Office for Pastoral Ministry with Persons with Disabilities is in touch with the family to support healing and moving forward together, and we are working with all to come to a pastoral resolution and to ensure that there is greater awareness in working with individuals with disabilities and their families."

ALSO READ | Nearly 100,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 in last 2 weeks of July

----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.