Parents have reacted angrily to a decision to scrap First Holy Communion Day as way of avoiding unnecessary expense.
Families at Askea in Co Carlow have been told that instead of having a special communal event, children can make their First Communion on any day next May or June.
The decision was made at parish level to help families counter the increasing costs, and in some case competitiveness, of what has become a social event featuring costly dresses, veils and celebratory parties.
Some parents have protested, saying they want to maintain the tradition of a child’s first communion being a communal event celebrated on a specific date.
One parent, Naomi Cahill, said that local children were upset as they had been looking forward to their special day.
She said parents understood the concern about rising costs but insisted that upholding tradition was also very important.
Cahill told the Independent: “We went to the meeting and asked for the communion date, and the priest said your child can make communion any day in May or June. Everyone was devastated.
“They can’t get rid of our tradition. They said because of the tradition of people going out in big dresses, they don’t want others to feel bad who can’t afford it, which we totally understand, but it’s only as costly as you make it.
“Children want to make their communion with their classmates and have the excitement of practising together.
“Our children want to take the creed for themselves with their head held high and with their friends, offering gifts and singing with the choir.
“No-one is saying you have to wear a dress, but they’re going to a Catholic school. My mother was reared that way, my granny was reared that way.”
The parents have now started a petition to reinstate First Holy Communion Day as a special celebratory event on a specific date.
However, other local residents welcome the decision because it would reduce the pressure on parents to spend more than they can afford and enable everyone to focus on the meaning of the sacrament instead.
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