Fr Michael Casey, teachers and parents in Sean McDermott parish on Dublin's north inner city decided months ago not to hold First Holy Communions until shortly before children go back to primary school in late August.
“That’s still the case, as far as I’m concerned. I’m hoping over the next two weeks there will be a bit more clarity,” he said, but plans to hold Confirmation ceremonies are in doubt after the Government’s decision to call for a delay.
Local sixth-class students were to be confirmed next week before they are “scattered to the four corners of the world”, though he said he now intends to “ring around” neighbouring parishes to see what they are doing.
The long-lasting nature of the Covid-19 pandemic means that “in some schools there’s a backlog from last year and some have two or three classes for Confirmation,” Fr Casey told The Irish Times.
“Here, Communion is a social event, it’s a family event that people want to celebrate. We did communions in August last year and tried to facilitate as best we could within the rules. We thought we would try and do the same this year.
“The parents last year wanted it to go ahead, they did some of the stuff the school would usually do. Because it’s planned for August I don’t think I’ll be getting phone calls from parents unless restrictions continue.
“My hope is after these two weeks they are going to come up with something that’ll let us ease things a little bit. Our numbers are small. We have a big church, so no problems with social distancing,” he went on.
Primary school teacher Nora Leamy from Caragh National School in Co Kildare says her school has one primary class left over from last year that was not able to have its Communion because the county went into lockdown.
Now, the hope is that Communions for this year and last year’s classes are held in August. “I know one woman who has bought two dresses and the child has continued to grow. She’s on dress number three now. She’s donating them all.”
However, she understood the need for caution given the rise in the numbers of Covid-19 Delta cases. “It’s not the church part, it’s the occasion and the parties and the family gatherings afterwards, I suppose.”
Meanwhile, the Confirmations backlog is building up, too. “Last year’s haven’t been done yet, not to mind this year’s,” she said, adding that the current plan is to confirm the 2020 class in August and the 2021 class in September .
“The sixth class I’m working with this year are not too bothered. It’ll get done at some stage. I’d say the parents of the Communion classes are more bothered,” she said.