Has school organised first communion become scandalous?


#1

I live in Ireland where the Church patronises over 90% of Primary School places and these schools prepare children for First Communion. Perhaps other countries have similar arrangements. perhaps not.

So we have a situation where children are presenting for first confession/communion through schools irrespective of whether their family is even remotely actively engaged with the local parish.

I attended a first communion ceremony recently in which the priest presiding had to ask people to respect the sacredness of the moment the kids received by desisting from taking pictures with the ever present cameras. Quite clearly he had never met the majority of the parents before. Success? You must be joking. It took about 20 seconds before the itch in the camera finger took over.

My question. Is allowing this use of the ceremony as a mere rite of passage available to all irrespective of whether or not the family practice even irregularly not an abuse that needs to be stopped?


#2

If the kids attend Catholic school and the family is obviously Catholic, then there the kids ideally should be catechized through the school, if not the family. Why penalize the kids if the family is lacking in practice? At least the school can follow up on the kid's education. I went through a similar thing and this was some time ago. I don't recall anyone asking if we're attending Sunday Mass all the time.


#3

I wouldn't want to prevent the kids from receiving the sacrament, but I can sympathize with the whole camera thing. At both our daughters' First Communions, the priest, the teachers and the pastoral assistant made it clear when you could take pictures and when you absolutely could not. After the complete disregard parents showed last year, they made each of us state that we understood the rules and that we'd make sure that we and our families followed them. It didn't take even 20 seconds this year for pretty much all the parents except my wife and I to have their cameras out, snapping pictures and filming video. The only difference between this year and last is that nobody tried snapping pictures during Communion.


#4

I hear you. I live in Ireland too, and have seen the embarrassing charade that First Holy Communion has become.

I was thinking, you know how this new Minister for Education is talking about removing Catholic patronage from schools - well maybe that'll be a good thing, in the following sense. If the Catholic Church in Ireland then sets up a catechesis programme for the sacraments that is obligatory for both children and parents to attend, as in, outside school hours, a big commitment, something that will catechise the parents to some degree... then maybe there will be a small realisation on behalf of some of the parents who would otherwise have been thinking about the dress, the photos, the party, etc... Maybe?


#5

When I was at convent school, First Communion was done through the school. But it was up to parents to elect their children for it, it was not just ‘done’ as a matter of habit. Most children in my class took First Communion together, except for me and another Anglican, a Mormom boy and a Muslim girl.

When I took First Communion no-one took pictures but it was an underground church in Saudi Arabia so it was for security reasons more than anything. There a pictures of all the children with the priest after the service but the priest is not in his vestments, again so that no-one coming across the pictures could know he was a priest.

I recently attended the First Communion mass at my parish and people were very respectful and didn’t take pictures. After the service, the children and the priest went to the chapel at the side of the church and pictures were allowed then.


#6

[quote="Gordon_Sims, post:3, topic:242111"]
I wouldn't want to prevent the kids from receiving the sacrament, but I can sympathize with the whole camera thing. At both our daughters' First Communions, the priest, the teachers and the pastoral assistant made it clear when you could take pictures and when you absolutely could not. After the complete disregard parents showed last year, they made each of us state that we understood the rules and that we'd make sure that we and our families followed them. It didn't take even 20 seconds this year for pretty much all the parents except my wife and I to have their cameras out, snapping pictures and filming video. The only difference between this year and last is that nobody tried snapping pictures during Communion.

[/quote]

Lucky you! We had 12 kids receiving their First Communion earlier this month and the folks were lined up 3 deep to take pictures during Communion; I wanted to scream.

As for which kids receive, I've seen the same thing the OP talks about in all parishes where religious education is in the schools. Then again, we have the parents who show up when the kids are old enough for sacramental preparation and once the kids have received, we never see them again. Judging by what I heard at the catechetical conference I've just attended, all parishes have that same problem.


#7

[quote="Aboveallbereal, post:1, topic:242111"]
...My question. Is allowing this use of the ceremony as a mere rite of passage available to all irrespective of whether or not the family practice even irregularly not an abuse that needs to be stopped?...

[/quote]

It is wonderful that you seem to love Jesus so much that seeing a lack of respect for the Sacraments upsets you.

However there seems to be no real solution to this problem other then prayer. What sort of solution would you propose to this problem and how would a priest go about it? What sort of criteria do you beleive a family has to meet in order for their child to receive communion? I know you said that some families are not even "remotely actively engaged" in parish life, but what exactly does that mean?

Put yourself in the position of the priest. Should he require that he see families at Mass every Sunday? What if they sometimes attend another parish? What if they admit to attending Mass only monthly or every-other month should he refuse the sacraments to the child? These families need our love and prayer and then more love and more prayer.


#8

Our Parish Priest designated a morning in church for taking photographs the weekend before the First Communions, and asked for no cameras for during the Mass. This seemed the best way, as the families got the photos with Father in the church setting and everyone dressed-up, but the First Communion services were kept reverent.


#9

[quote="Phemie, post:6, topic:242111"]
Lucky you! We had 12 kids receiving their First Communion earlier this month and the folks were lined up 3 deep to take pictures during Communion; I wanted to scream.

Just a thought on this...in our parish they get a professional photographer (a member of our parish) who is the only one allowed to stand near the altar with a camera when the children are confirmed and receive Communion. She is very unobtrusive and the parents all get the picture they want of their children from her (no charge...the parish takes care of that). It sure keeps it from becoming a zoo!! She also stays after and takes group shots and individual shots for anyone who wants them. It works out well.

[/quote]


#10

We used to do that in the military parishes when our kids were little – a military photo tech was assigned the job – but I haven’t encountered it in the other parishes where I was. In one, even though we worshipped in an auditorium people didn’t act like that.
[/quote]


#11

I think its a good idea to designate one person to snap the pictures as each child goes up to receive for the first time. Then the parents and families can go up and receive after, then the rest of the congregation. The photographer can then give people either a few prints or email digital copies for parents & families later.

That way parents are not trying to get the best position and push each other out of the way to get the pictures especially if there are many in a class.

I was lucky when I was going for my first Holy Communion. Our class, our parents picked the Mass, and the Saturday evening Mass, myself and another boy were the only ones which made it a lot easier. Our teachers gave a list to our parents of the days and times to pick one but its been too long for me to remember the exact thing.


#12

If 90% of primary schools are Catholic in Ireland, presumably non-Catholic children often have to attend one. Surely those students who were not baptised in the Catholic Church (which I'm aware most Irish children probably are) aren't prepared for First Communion?


#13

I agree. Quinn despises The Church and is thrilled at the opportunity of removing it from hundreds of schools but counter intuitively it might be the best thing that ever happened in that the local Catholic school may become once more a school for local Catholics and baptism may once again be a ceremony rather than an exercise in getting on to the admittance list at the local school…lot’s of 4 year olds being bapitised in Ireland lately for some reason !!! Another awful farce.


#14

Non Catholics are not prepared for holy Communion but they were not the demographic I was referring to.

Ireland is now at a juncture in which we are seeing a very speeded up dechristianisation. What took several generations in England for instance is taking one generation in Ireland.

Parents of 8 year olds are generally late 30s/early 40s. The vast majority of that age cohort in ireland are cradle/cultural catholic with ( and this is important ) still living and churchgoing mothers and children at catholic schools. However they themselves are for the most part lapsed. The vast majority of Irish people in their 30s are not churchgoers.

This creates a situation which will persist until the current “grandmother” generation passes away in which Catholic norms are often insisted on by a powerful matriach and accepted with more or less good grace by de facto lapsed 30/40 somethings. Children are baptised etc because " Jim and I are non religious of course but little Johnnys gran wants it you know" and “the school need the cert”.

It’s against this background that the " don’t ask don’t tell" fiction that children presenting for communion are being brought up as catholics must be understood. Changes to school patronage being introduced by an aggressively anti catholic minister for Education allied to the gradual dying off of what I am calling the “granmother generation” will see a wholesale collapse in numbers presenting for baptism/Communion during the 2020s and beyond and curiously this will greatly strenghten irish catholicism.


#15

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