COMMUNION season is about to push many financially strained families over the edge, experts have warned.
The Money Advice and Budgetary Service (MABS) has warned it is expecting an increase in calls to their service in June, when most children make their First Holy Communions and Confirmations.
"Some families will find themselves under pressure to fund these celebrations," a MABS spokesperson said.
"This will mean some of them will have to turn to organisations such as St Vincent de Paul for assistance."
In February the Government announced that the grant for low-income families to help pay for Communions and Confirmations was being cut.
Last year these payments were given to 14,000 families.
The average amount paid out was ¤242. This year ¤110 is the maximum amount being paid -- and only for specific "hardship" cases.
Now many parents could end up in debt, since their attempts to pay the Communions and Confirmations bills will hit their household budgets.
"They will encounter difficulties later on in the year," said the MABS representative.
The Consumers' Association of Ireland claims that "trying to make these sacramental days special for the child can cause parents a lot of financial worry."
MABS has an information leaflet on Communions and Confirmations which advises parents how to save for these events and make savings on the spending for the day itself.
It urges families to check out its website for this advice.
In a study carried out last year by the Irish League of Credit Unions, 12pc of parents got loans from money-lenders to help for at least some of the day.
Some 64pc of parents whose children had made their first Holy Communion in the previous three years said that the clothes were the biggest outgoing for the day.
This year, however, the CAI say that it has noticed that there are reductions in outfits for First Holy Communions.
It says it has seen "a significantly changed set of offerings at decidedly leaner and competitive prices".
Yet it still admits that "in many places you won't get much change from €500 for the entire outfit".