The Archdiocese of Dublin has proposed changes in the way children prepare for the First Communion with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, saying the celebration should be simple.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Emma Gilmore, a Wicklow mother of three boys says the cost of a child’s Communion day is insane and explains why her kids making their Communion is not important.
RELIGION SHOULD BE taken out of the school. Parents like me, who don’t go to church every week, should be given more options when it comes to Communion and Confirmation. My son is due to make his Communion next year, but I feel very hypocritical if I force him to make it.
I am not someone who is anti-Catholic by any means at all. I take my children into the church often – we light candles and say a little prayer for people. I like to ask them who would they like to think of today, something small like that. But I think these days, Communion and Confirmation is more about how much money the kids are making, what clothes they are wearing and I think the focus is more on that than what the day is actually about.
I couldn’t get my son into an Educate Together school. My son is in a very good school and I’m happy he is there. Unfortunately there were not enough spaces as the multi-denominational school in my area only has one class for each year – that is about 30 kids per year. So the only other option is a Catholic school. When he started school, I had to sign piece of paper acknowledging that you understand that it is a Catholic school you are sending him to and that you agree with its teachings – even then I felt hypocritical, but what other option do I have, home schooling? I have limited options.
Communion and Confirmation is part and parcel of a Catholic school, but I don’t feel that it is right for me to sit there in the Communion or Confirmation classes with my son and make a commitment, when I know that it is not all that important to me. What is important for me is that my boy grows up to be a good person and a good Christian – more spiritual than religious.
The Church has lost a lot of appeal and meaning for me, so I don’t want to inflict that on my kids. If my son came to me and said that he wanted to do it then obviously I wouldn’t deny him that. But for me and for us as a family, him making his Communion and Confirmation is not important.
I have heard the preparation classes can take up a lot of the school time, so I am worried that if he opts out he might be the only one and would feel ostracised – as in, the class are doing religion now, what does he do? Speaking to a teacher I was told to think about it, as he could feel ostracised perhaps from his peers if he does not do it.
Some parents have been shocked when I tell them how I feel. I explained that I think it has become about the big day out – the clothes, the big meal and the money – and they admitted that that is exactly what it means to them, that they just want a big day out. And that is the very reason why I don’t want my boys to do it.
The expense is insane – the outfits you have to get for all the children, you have to dress up too, then there is the meal and the drinks. I have heard of people getting bouncy castles – the day has become like a little wedding. I think it would be even worse if I had a little girl.
I don’t want to be ostracised as a mother either. I don’t want to be looked at like ‘there goes that woman with all her morals and opinions’, because I would never want to inflict my opinions on anyone else; it is just something I feel strongly about.
I think that religion should be removed from the schools. Why can’t parents who feel strongly about raising their kids as Catholic teach them and accompany them to classes? Why can’t parents be given the responsibility. If you want your children to do their Communion, then you should bring them and teach them through the Church rather than the schools.
There has to be another way. I realise most people still need to practice their religion -I am not saying they shouldn’t – but Ireland has changed and I think we need to move along with that, especially the schools.