Saturday 25 May 2019

Parents furious as set first-communion date is scrapped by parish

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Ian Begley and Rachel Farrell

A parish in Co Carlow is at loggerheads with the Church after a decision was made to change how children celebrate their first communion in the area.

More than 250 people have signed a petition protesting at moves to allow boys and girls make their first communion "on any Mass day in May or June", rather than holding it on a specific date.

Parents in Askea, Co Carlow, now fear their children will no longer be able to celebrate their big day with their class.

They were told at a parish meeting last week that children at Askea National School, Tinryland National School and the local gaelscoil could make their communion on "any day" when Mass is being held in May or June.

But parents are arguing that they don't want the tradition of the day to die and vowed to protest outside Mass on Sunday October 7 if they don't get a response from the parish officials.

One local parent, Naomi Cahill, said that many children were upset by the decision.

"We went to the meeting and asked for the communion date, and the priest said your child can make communion any day in May or June. Everyone was devastated," Ms Cahill told the Irish Independent.

She added that while the families behind the petition understand the increasing costs behind communion days, they don't want to take the day away from their children.

"They can't get rid of our tradition. They said because of the tradition of people going out in big dresses, they don't want others to feel bad who can't afford it, which we totally understand, but it's only as costly as you make it.

"Children want to make their communion with their classmates and have the excitement of practising together. Our children want to take the creed for themselves with their head held high and with their friends, offering gifts and singing with the choir.

"No one is saying you have to wear a dress, but they're going to a Catholic school. My mother was reared that way, my granny was reared that way."

Ms Cahill also said that other parents didn't want it to set a precedent for other traditions in the future.

"We're afraid of what it holds for Irish traditions in the future, we don't want it to become extinct.

"We always bring all different cultures into the school, but we have to stand and do something so this one doesn't die out."

Other local residents praised the decision to remove the set date for communion, saying that it would remove the pressures of spending money on communion days and focus on the sacrament instead.

"Great idea, less expenses for family. Religion and State schools should be separated and if families want to celebrate they can do so in their own time - well done," one listener told local radio station KCLR96 FM.

"I think it's a great idea, well done to those schools. They shouldn't be preparing in school either, religion is a personal thing," another parent said.

Parish priest Fr Tom Little and Fr Tommy Dillon of Askea and Bennekerry parish were unavailable for comment last night.

Irish Independent

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