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Column: Let's take the Sacraments out of class time (and out of teachers' hands)

Instead of spending 20-30 hours of curriculum time focusing on the Sacraments, preparation should take place after school hours.

Catherine W

THE SACRAMENT SEASON is upon us where thousands of 2nd and 6th class children across the country partake in the annual event of comparing how much money they can make. I see this practise continuing in a modern society as nothing short of a farce. I write this article as a teacher who has taken part in the ritual of Confirmation for the last number of years. I also write this anonymously for fear that I could lose my job for voicing my opinion.

For four full weeks in the run up to Confirmation we spent one hour a day practising choir and the Confirmation ceremony. We also miss a school day for the service. That’s a total of 20-30 hours of valuable curriculum time. Instead of teaching maths and literacy skills, we’re teaching children how to walk up to the altar, how to bless themselves and how to receive Communion.

The weekly visit from the priest shows the high demand for such a service. He asks for a show of hands for who attends mass every week, or even most weeks. Out of 60 children in two classes we see a mere five hands in the air. The majority of these children can’t even bless themselves and have not received Communion since their very first time.

What of the nine children that are not making Confirmation? They sit quietly in a corner reading books and completing worksheets and then miss a full day of school on the day of the service. The government tell us we need to improve literacy and numeracy scores but we have to take 20-30 hours of teaching time to teach about the Holy Spirit.

The parents are happy to go along with the charade so that they have a nice day out. The Church is happy because it keeps its numbers nice and high. The teachers are not happy preparing a bunch of children with very little interest in preparing for a sacrament while losing out on valuable teaching time.

Yet we persist with the charade. You’d think there was no alternative. There is a perfectly simple solution to this: let’s take Communion and Confirmation out of class time and out of teachers’ hands. The Church, lay people and parents should be invited to use the school building to prepare for sacraments after school time.

Parents who want their children confirmed can leave them in school for an extra half hour while preparation takes place. No curriculum time is lost – and that extra time could make all the difference for a child struggling in school.

The author wished to remain anonymous for employment reasons. 

Read: School students could start late or finish early instead of going to religion classes

About the author:

Catherine W

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