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Sunday 26 March 2017

Parents spending 17pc less on child's Holy Communion

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

PARENTS have eased off on what they spend to celebrate their child's Holy Communion.

And although they are still shelling out around €1,000 to celebrate their children's Communions, this figure is down from €1,165 in the past two years, a fall of 17pc.

The spending on communions comes to almost €60m when it is all added up across the economy, the survey from Ulster Bank shows.

The survey shows that mums and dads are spending €213 on average on children's outfits for the big day.

And proud parents of Catholic children spend €382 on food and drink for a party to mark the ceremony.

Four out of 10 parents hire a bouncy castle, with one in five employing a professional photographer.

Despite the decline in spending, parents have still been criticised by the Catholic Church and charities for shelling out too much on the big day.

The splurge on communions has been condemned by St Vincent de Paul, which said that spending €1,000 on a celebration for a nine-year-old was not justified.

There are signs that some of the madness has gone out of communion celebrations -- spending on make-up, fake tan and hair dressing has dived by 25pc to just under €40.

Before the recession hit it was not unusual for parents to hire limousines and bouncy castles, and splash out on expensive dresses, suits, make-up and spray tans.

John Monaghan, national vice-president of St Vincent de Paul (SV de P), said parents would be spending huge sums because they did not want their child to stand out from others.

"Our recommendation is to put a little sanity back into it, we need some sense," he said.

"It was never right. It was never justified.

"It is taking away from the sacrament and focusing on the showbusiness. There are a lot of families who cannot afford to do this," Prof Monaghan said.

The nine and 10-year-olds making their communion are raking in €468 in cash gifts from relations and friends. Half of the money they get ends up being spent.

Aunts and uncles are most generous, giving about a third of all money received.

Bonanza

But the cash bonanza has eased with the recession. The amount of cash the children collect is now down almost a fifth, from €574 in the past two years.

The study of 1,000 people carried out in the past few weeks by Millward Brown Lansdowne for Ulster Bank found children in Dublin earned most, with €533.

First communicants in Munster got €519. Those in Ulster and Connacht were least well-off, getting €369.

Ulster Bank said that almost 60,000 children were making their communion this year. This meant nine and 10-year-olds had €28m to spend and saved €13.3m. SV de P staff in the 13 regions the agency works in have been in contact with Catholic bishops raising concerns over the cost of the day.

Prof Monaghan warned that the charity's advisers were discovering families in arrears on energy bills because the cash they had was being used to pay back moneylenders months after Communion day.

The agency urged the church and schools to consider asking parents to allow children to wear a white robe or smock for the service, as is common on the Continent.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said focusing on money and gifts rather than the spiritual side of a sacrament was not good preparation.

"Bishops and priests are very concerned about the cost issue facing parents with children for First Holy Communion and Confirmation and have discussed this matter in parishes."

The spokesman urged parishes to provide locally organised and modest celebrations.

Irish Independent

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