Parents in Navan parish have been given allocated times in August for the Confirmations of their children as Meath becomes the latest diocese to flout Government advice on such ceremonies.
Clergy members in the parish say they are "absolutely delighted" after receiving the go ahead for Confirmations in a letter to all the priests in the diocese from Bishop Tom Deenihan.
More than 380 children will receive the Sacrament in nine shortened ceremonies in Navan’s two churches between 10.30am and 7pm on Wednesday, August 18th.
"All hands will be on deck" on the day, said parish administrator Fr Declan Hurley, who confirmed that Bishop Deenihan and possibly retired bishop of Meath Rev Michael Smith would be officiating.
“Bishop Deenihan wrote to all the priests in the diocese informing them of his decision to recommence Confirmations and since we posted the dates on our website, the feedback from parents has been universally positive,” said Fr Hurley.
“We know that there will be a number of children away on holidays on that day and we are reassuring those parents not to worry as their child can be accommodated at a later date when we welcome other parishes into our churches for their Confirmation ceremonies.
“We have always followed all Government advice, but it seems somewhat illogical that we can accommodate large numbers in our churches for Masses, weddings and funerals but can’t do the same for Communions and Confirmations.
“In light of other sectors reopening and the increase of numbers allowed at weddings to 100 from Monday, we all feel it’s the right thing to do.
“If we don’t have Confirmations in August, then most of the children will have started post-primary school and we would have to hold the ceremonies over a number of evenings later in the year.
“We will still hold the Confirmations in accordance with public health requirements. There will only be 50 people per pod, which includes the child, their sponsor and two others. The timeframe of the ceremony will be shorter as there will not be Mass on the day.”
“Everyone will be asked to continue to wear masks and socially distance and as we will be following all public health guidelines, we would ask parents to do the same for their celebrations,” he added.
“I feel there is an important constitutional principle at play here. While the Government can give us guidelines, they can’t tell us how to pray.
“They can’t tell us that we can perform the Sacrament of marriage with 100 people but can’t give other Sacraments like Communion and Confirmation to children.”
A post on the parish Facebook page reads: "You may have heard reports in the media of the bishops of Ireland announcing the resumption of Confirmation ceremonies.
“Bishop Deenihan has informed us that the Sacrament of Confirmation will be celebrated in Navan Parish on Wednesday, August 18th.”
Comments in response on the page included: “Thanks be to God”, “Great news”, and “About time”.