Religious ceremonies and schools

Sir, – I read the article "It's Holy Communion week so I am taking my eight-year-old son out of school" (Opinion & Analysis, May 8th) on the same day I returned from attending a Holy Communion ceremony in Brussels. It was a great social occasion, and was presided over by two Irish priests, who seemed to be very popular indeed. There, however, the similarities with Ireland ended. The first thing to notice was that all the children, boys and girls, were dressed in white robes, similar to miniature monk habits, which covered them from neck to toe. Immediately it was obvious that there could be no ostentation or competition between children (or their parents) about who was best dressed, an issue that can lead to financial hardship here for some. We found out that training for the event happens on a number of Sundays prior to it, and the ceremony itself is also on a Sunday. This means there is no disruption to the school curriculum, and those children whose parents choose not to involve their offspring are not subject to the isolation described in your article. Parents who wish to take part in the organisation of the event are encouraged to do so.

There is a large Irish community in Brussels, and Irish parents of Holy Communion children seemed to be very content with the way the whole thing was arranged. Similarly, our government Ministers and officials have made a well-worn path to the seat of the European Commission and other institutions, so it should not be too difficult for them to undertake a study, and perhaps even learn how the situation that exercises so much energy and, on occasion, righteous anger, here at home, might be resolved, to the satisfaction of all. – Yours, etc,


Windy Arbour,


Dublin 14.