Across the country hundreds of primary-school children are preparing for the sacrament. A number of people involved in different aspects of the event give their perspective to Joe Donnelly
'As non-Catholics I wanted our kids to integrate'
Jeni Pim is a married Quaker mum of two from Dunhill in Waterford. Her two children, Robert aged 14 and Jordan aged 10, went to a Catholic primary school.
"My family moved when the children were small because a school wouldn't accept Robert due to him not being baptised. A priest I once met even offered to baptise him on the sly, and promised me that I 'wouldn't have to tell my husband'. We couldn't get Robert into any schools because he wasn't baptised. We now live together on my brother-in-law's farm."
"At the time when we moved we would have been the only non-Catholics in the area. Because we're different at the best of times, I wanted my children to integrate with the local kids, and the GAA club, and so on. I felt that very strongly; I really wanted them to go to primary school. Kids need to integrate and be part of a community.
"We enrolled them in a national school and there has never been a problem with the fact that they're not Catholic. I'd say Communion was a lot easier with Robert because he's a boy and there wasn't the same fuss that you'd have with girls. But there was still huge talk of the 'party'.
"The thing is, he was extremely popular the week of his Communion because he was the only child who was able to go to someone else's party; he could go visiting his friends. He didn't feel left out and we've always explained that he's not Catholic so there were no difficult questions. Never once did he come home and want to make Communion.
"It was slightly different with Jordan because they were all talking about the dresses and the hair and the nails, but they're not ostentatious; it's just the norm nowadays. I didn't realise, however, that so much time in school hours would be taken up with prep for Communion.
"To be honest, maybe I should have asked and it still wouldn't have changed my opinion, but I must admit I was surprised at how much time. Jordan came home one time and wondered why she wasn't taking part in all the fuss and celebrations. We had to sit her down and explain and she understood it well. There was no question of us putting on a party just because all their mates were.
"The classroom was very good and the teachers were very helpful. It wasn't a case of 'everyone except Jordan or Robert do this'. The teachers even consulted me; I feel we were very lucky with our kids' primary education. Schools get a lot of bad press and I think it's unfair."