Recent controversy in the media about whether the Church should hold the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion, despite public health reccomendations, prompted me to take some time this week to reflect on how we celebrate these important times in the faith journey of our young people, & their families.
Here in our parish; our principals, Patrick Logue (Chairperson & Chaplain to NS Buite, Tenure), and myself took the decision in June to cancel plans for holding the Sacraments during the summer months, and just this week, we have contacted the families affected to say that this position remains unchganged. We will make arrangements to celebrate these Sacraments when it is safe to do so – but not before mid-September at the earliest.
However, despite the disappointments, difficulties and challenges this has presented to the Children and their families, there is also an opportunity here to consider how to best celebrate our Sacraments going forward, taking into consideration that a large number – indeed, the majority – of our girls and boys preparing for First Holy Communion & Confirmation, and their families, do not attend Mass regularly.
So, while it’s looking more likely that Communion and Confirmation will be celebrated in the Autumn across Ireland, in the meantime we should look past cultural norms & into the heart of what the Sacraments mean.
We need to re-think the idea that everybody receives Communion & Confirmation just as a matter of course; It is an opportunity to think about how we celebrate important rites of passage in the Faith & whether there are new ways, better ways, of doing things into the future. One possibility is that small groups of children and their families may celebrate the Sacraments during the regular Sunday Masses.
The Archdiocese has prepared resources for families in the lead up to the Sacraments;
First Holy Communion resources can be found here;
Confirmation resources can be found here;
Please continue to pray for our children, their families, and our teachers – all of whom are directly affected by how public health advice affects day-to-day living during these pandemic times. We also remember all involved in rolling out vaccines, and the medical professionals working with the sick at home or in hospitals/institutions, and their families.