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First communion ‘too commercial’

23 February 2012

by Gregg Ryan

A GROWING commercial emphasis surrounding the sacraments of holy communion and confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has prompted concerned clerics to remind families of the primary purpose of the events

During the boom times, some families went to quite extravagant lengths to celebrate the important day in the spirit­ual lives of their children, effectively reducing the spiritual significance of the sacrament to a rite of pas­sage, including arrival at the church by stretch limous­ine, horse and carriage, or, at least in one instance, even a helicopter. Such occurrences, together with a recent controversy in which the state withdrew some grant aid to needy families towards fitting out their children for their special day, has led the Church to re-emphasise the spiritual significance of what is taking place rather the commercial focus.

In a statement, the Catholic Communications Office in Dublin says: “Bishops, priests, and schools are very concerned about the cost issue facing parents with children for First Holy Communion and/or Confirma­tion, and have discussed this matter in parishes.”

Responsibility for the social celebrations rests with parents, but should be “balanced and appropriate for the occasion. In this regard the Church . . . [encourages] parishes to provide, for example after the First Holy Communion Mass, a locally organised and modest gathering so that the faith community can together celebrate this special day.”

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