Preparation for Holy Communions to be removed from schools and classrooms
First Communions have – and continue to be – a big day of celebrations for families across Ireland. However, as schools and society overall are becoming more secular, many are calling for all religious rites of passage to be taken out of the schools and curriculums.
And so slowly, the Church is set to start moving the preparation of children for Holy Communion and Confirmation out of the classroom, putting more pressure on families to prepare their children for the sacrament alongside their local church and parish clergy.
According to the Irish Examiner, the country’s largest archdiocese is now developing plans to strip back pre-sacramental preparations in schools amid growing sentiments that many families and children have little interest in the celebration.
The new policy in the Archdiocese of Dublin, which has been in development for four years, follows a survey of 1,800 people including parents, priests and school principals.
Parents will have to register their children with the parish
The key change will require parents to register directly with the parish for their children to receive sacraments.
Announcing the new policy statement for the sacraments of initiation, Archbishop Dermot Farrell said:
“What emerged from this consultation was a clear desire for substantial change and innovation, coupled with the challenge of finding ways of responding to the complex reality of faith in family life."
“In this deeper engagement, it became clear that new patterns were emerging that could strengthen the partnership between family, parish and school."
Amid a growing feeling in Church ranks that communion and confirmation celebrations have little to do with the child’s relationship with God, the policy advocates for “small group celebrations” for a “more prayerful, personal experience”.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Dublin said “registering with the parish is an emerging practice from the pandemic which allows parishes to keep in touch with families in a more supportive way”.
“For those who are in a Catholic school, religious education will continue in school. The parish will complement this with other family-based opportunities,” he said.
“This new policy seeks to integrate the accompaniment of families, starting with baptism all the way through to confirmation.”
'Remove the sacrament from schools'
Fr Tony Flannery urged the Church to remove the sacrament from more schools.
He said sacramental celebrations have become a “sham”, the religious element is “fairly meaningless” and the celebrations do “more harm than good” for the Church.
“Increasingly, the ceremonies around first communion and confirmation have very little religious significance for people,” Flannery told Newstalk.
“It brings people in for this particular ceremony, but that doesn’t add anything to the faith, it almost trivializes the sacrament. It’s a circus really.”
He added that really, the system has to change as most teachers are not “believers themselves””