Priest defends decision to end specific date for first communion
Proposal to allow children make communion at regular mass aimed to encourage churchgoing
Fr Tom Little said the decision was made in an effort to get parents to bring their children to Mass regularly, rather than on just one occasion. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto
The parish priest of Askea and Benekerry in Co Carlow is defending his decision to spread First Communion masses across the months of May and June on a school-by-school basis, rather than having one day for the entire parish.
Fr Tom Little said the decision was made in an effort to get parents to bring their children to Mass regularly, rather than on just one occasion.
The majority of parents supported his suggestion when he proposed the change at two public meetings last week, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
However, a number of parents have launched a petition against the proposed change in the hope of “saving the tradition” of First Communion.
Fr Little explained that the children can celebrate the sacrament with their classmates at a “regular Sunday mass”. He said it was hoped that the children and their families would attend mass on a regular basis, rather than “a once-off.”
He wanted parents to “take ownership” of the preparations and help the schools and the parish to “enlighten their children” about the sacrament.
“I regret the confusion caused. I would have preferred if parents would have seen this as a work in progress rather than a social media frenzy.”
Under Fr Little’s proposal. children at Askea National School, Tinryland National School and the local Gaelscoil could make their communion at any Mass in May or June.
But some parents do not want the tradition of First Communion day to die down and are planning to protest outside mass on Sunday 7th October if they do not hear a response from the parish officials.
Others supported the idea and contacted local radio station KCLR to say so.
One said: “Great idea, less expenses for family. Religion and state schools should be separated and if families want to celebrate they can do so in their own time - well done”.
Another said: “I think it’s a great idea, well done to those schools. They shouldn’t be preparing in school either, religion is a personal thing. I don’t think the idea came from schools but rather from the parish.”