Saturday 23 September 2017

Archbishop in bid to cut cost of baptisms and confirmations

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin with some of the first holy communion class pupils at St Columba’s National School in Glasnevin yesterday during the launch of the archdiocese’s new policy document.
Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin with some of the first holy communion class pupils at St Columba’s National School in Glasnevin yesterday during the launch of the archdiocese’s new policy document.

Sarah MacDonald and Sarah Stack

CHURCH leaders are to unveil measures to curb lavish spending by parents on baptisms and confirmations.

The move follows the announcement of plans to reduce spending by parents on first holy communions, with expensive dresses and suits likely to be replaced by school uniforms or simple white robes.

A policy document outlining significant changes in the way children are prepared for their first communion and confession was announced yesterday by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

And Dr Martin promised that further policies will be rolled out to cover most of the sacraments, including baptism and confirmation.

Partying

"We will produce similar policy documents for those sacraments. We really should have been beginning at baptism," he said.

The changes may result in costly communion dresses becoming a thing of the past as parishes opt to substitute robes or school uniforms in a bid to tone down some of the excesses associated with first communions in recent years.

Archbishop Martin expressed regret at the "exaggerated spending on clothes and externals" which he said detracted from the sacrament.

"One should be very clearly looking at the amount of money spent on outfits and sometimes transport and partying as well," he said.

"Parishes should encourage people to celebrate the sacrament with the simplicity and authenticity which will help the child to fully understand the mystery of the Eucharist."

The Archdiocese of Dublin policy document proposes changes in the way children prepare for the sacraments of First Communion and Reconciliation (confession).

Under the plan, parents across the capital will have a greater role in their child's communion, taking part in the preparations instead of just signing a consent form and leaving teachings to the classroom.

It is hoped smaller groups of children will eventually receive the sacrament during Sunday Mass with their local parish community and not in private celebrations.

Archbishop Martin said the proposals would be controversial and take time to implement, but would give much greater involvement to parents, parish and school.

New figures show the average social welfare grant given to low-income families to pay for communion and confirmation ceremonies has more than halved to €120. And the number of families who obtained the grants dropped by around 1,500.

Last year, 13,970 families received an "exceptional needs" payment for communions or confirmations. The average grant was €243 and the total cost was €3.4m.

This year, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton ordered welfare officers to cap the payments at €110, but gave them discretion to pay more in cases of extreme hardship.

The average grant paid this year was down to €120, with the total cost reduced to €1.5m.

Irish Independent

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