PARENTS of children making their First Communion at a church in Cabra are up in arms over changes being introduced for the holy sacrament.
The new changes will involve parents, teachers and parishes working together to see smaller groups of children receiving their First Communion during Sunday mass instead of Saturday, as has been the tradition for generations.
However, some parents believe the change will limit the amount of time their children have to celebrate the occasion and feel their children are being deprived of what is considered a traditional family day.
Many families with children making their First Communion on Saturdays spend the rest of the day visiting relatives before organising a family day out on the Sunday.
But under the new guidelines being introduced on a phased basis, the children will be back at school the day after they take the sacrament.
Margaret O’Shea, a parent of one of the children due to make their Communion at the Church of The Most Precious Blood in Cabra next year, said she feels very strongly about the issue.
Speaking to the Northside People, Ms O’Shea said she believes the day was changed to tone down the hype surrounding First Communion celebrations.
“This was a pilot project set up by the church over the past two years,” she stated.
“We were informed that it would be reviewed after that time and that if parents weren’t happy with the change it would be changed back to a Saturday.
“We carried out our own survey in June and the majority of parents in the area are against the children’s Communion being celebrated on a Sunday.”
Ms O’ Shea added: “Saturday has always been a traditional day for children to celebrate their First Communion and we now feel that they are being robbed of that tradition.
“We also feel that it’s an attempt to tone down the hype surrounding First Communion celebrations, which is not very nice for the children.”
The changes were introduced after the church adopted the ‘Do This in Memory’ programme - a parish-based initiative that focuses on the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist.
The programme is also designed to facilitate parents, families and the parishes’ involvement in the preparation for First Communion.
Ms O’Shea said that despite numerous objections, the children were sent home with letters in their first week back at school last month informing parents that First Communion celebrations would be held on a Sunday next year.
“Our objections have fallen on deaf ears,” she added. “We’ve voiced how we feel about all of this and we haven’t been listened to. If it doesn’t change I won’t be allowing my daughter to make her Communion at the church. I’ll probably take her to Lourdes instead where she’ll be able to feel like the day is really special.
“We don’t tell the church what to do so the least they could do is listen to us and stop telling us how we should celebrate our children’s Communion.”
Joanne McNulty, from Finglas, said she too is annoyed that the children will not receive their First Communion on a Saturday.
“It’s not very fair that we haven’t been listened too,” she said.
“We were told that our objections would be considered as part of a review but that hasn’t happened. We would rather the children celebrate their First Communion on a Saturday as this would give them more time to enjoy the occasion.”
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Dublin said it’s hoped that all local parishes would adopt the initiative over a phased period.
The spokesperson added that the Church of The Most Precious Blood has set an example for other parishes to follow.
In a statement issued last week, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the focus of the new policy was to root First Communion more firmly within the parish.
He said the aim was that First Communion would take place at a Sunday mass to stress the fact that the sacrament is not a private celebration, but involves a welcome into the parish community.
Archbishop Martin outlined how he believes parishes should work to ensure that the celebration of First Communion is not accompanied by extravagant expense.
“Parishes should encourage people to celebrate the sacrament with the simplicity and authenticity that will help the child to fully understand the mystery of the Eucharist,” he said.